Chatree Thailand closes over health concerns

Kingsgate Consolidated’s troubled gold mine, Chatree has been forced to close again over suspected metal poisoning.

The Thai Government has ordered the closure of Kingstate Consolidated’s Chatree gold mine by the end of 2016 due to conflict over its health effects.

Chatree was suspended from operations in January 2015, after tests found high levels of arsenic and manganese in people living near the operation. The company was shocked at the findings, with Kingsgate chairman Ross Smyth-Kirk saying the chemicals had never been used or stored at the operation.

While some community members lobbied the Thai Government against the mine, others supported it. Chatree (Akara Resources) is Thailand’s largest mining operation, employing nearly 1000 staff.

A statement from the Ministry of Industry said the mine had to be shut down and the area rehabilitated.

“Even though there is no clear conclusion that the environmental and health impacts came from Akara gold mine, [we made the decision] for the benefit of society and to solve conflict between people.”

It went on to say that the metallurgical license will be renewed until the end of 2016 for the remaining minerals to be used and to prepare for shutdown procedures.

A spokesperson from Kingsgate told Australian Mining they were aware of reports that Thailand’s Industry Minister will extend the license until the end of the year but have not been notified.

“At this stage we have received no formal notice in this regard and are seeking clarification from the relevant ministry so that the implications for the company can be considered before making any announcement.”

In March 2016, Kingsgate CEO Greg Foulis said their operation has been facing delays based on “false accusations” which are holding back investment and efficient operation.

He added that the delays are also inhibiting access to various ore bodies and impacting their mine plan, altering their production forecast for FY2016 from between 125,000 to 135,000 ounces to 95 000 – 105,000 ounces.

They had expected to have the deferred gold quantities mined in 2017.

Akara Resources have denied allegations about the metal poisoning.

“Time after time we have proven conclusively that we cause no harm to the health of our community or to its environment,” they said in a statement.

“We have not received anything about this in writing…however when we do we will then seek legal advice as to our position.”

Kingsgate were granted a trading halt to finalise details related to the mine’s renewal license.

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