Kingsgate Consolidated said it is readying to commence production once again at the Chatree gold operation in Thailand, more than six years after it was reportedly forced to close over environmental and health issues.
The producer said that, despite some “mischievous and misleading Thai media reports concerning the status of…Chatree,” there are no new impediments to the restart of the mine and that its subsidiary Akara Resources has been working with the Department of Primary Industries and Mines (DPIM) to open it once again.
Several local news outlets including The Star called the mine controversial and pointed out that it had been subject to protests by community members who claimed the mine poisoned their crops and livestock.
While neither Kingsgate nor Akara spoke to the reports, they did confirm that Plant No. 2 at the site is completely refurbished and ready to operate, and in conjunction with the DPIM the reopening process has commenced.
“Akara has complied with all requirements set by the government for the re-opening, including the establishment of four local groups to administer the spending of various funds for the benefit of local communities,” officials said.
“Akara expects the DPIM will be onsite at Chatree in the coming days to complete the final reopening inspections. While Kingsgate appreciates that the timing of [the] reopening process may be frustrating for some, the company would like to reassure shareholders that these are normal Thai bureaucratic processes.”
The company added that the Thai Prime Minister has also given approval on record to the reopening of Chatree, and that, contrary to other reports in the media, there are no new groups of protestors delaying the restart.
“In recent weeks, Akara has been able to finally put some long standing legal matters to bed: two long-standing court cases that had been brought against the company by activists were found in favour of Akara, and notably, on the 15th February 2023, the Thai Supreme Administrative Court handed down its ruling in favour of government officials involved in the decision to grant five Mining Leases (MLs) at Chatree North,” the company said.
“The Court found that all local and central government approvals concerning the granting of the MLs were made lawfully. Importantly, the Court also found that there was no evidence that people living in the vicinity of the mine were exposed to elevated levels of toxic substances, or suffered any health effects from mining. The ruling of the Court is final with no avenue of appeal.”
Akara will continue to engage across the community with both supporters and opposers of the mine to better understand concerns, it added, and also confirmed that a 15-year challenger of the mine has withdrawn its opposition.