EARTH Thailand

Mine owner rejects report findings

Bangkok Post 25 July 2018

Akara Resources Plc has disputed the findings of a report which indicated possible toxic leaks from a tailings storage facility at its gold mine in Phichit.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Akara Resources said the company and several academics disagreed with several issues raised in the report.

A committee was set up a few years ago to probe villagers' complaints that polluted water from Akara's gold mining operation in Phichit leaked into paddy fields near the site.

The committee, chaired by permanent secretary for industry Pasu Loharjun, set up a sub-panel to conduct the study.

The sub-panel comprised researchers from Naresuan University and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan.

According to Mr Pasu, the study found abnormal electrical resistance in groundwater near the facility, known as TSF1, which indicated possible leaks. Geochemical anomalies were also detected. The study also discovered signs of leakages from the facility into an observation well and nearby rice fields, he said.

The company Tuesday said that while seven committee members voted to endorse the study, they represented only a small minority of the 52-member group.

The resolution was unfair and not academically substantiated, the company said. It argued that using a measurement of electrical resistance did not provide conclusive proof of leakage and the use of geochemistry was not the right tool to detect leakage either.

The company insisted that its gold mine operations were strictly in compliance with the law and supervised by the Department of Primary Industries and Mines.

Early last month, the Industry Ministry denied social media posts claiming Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered the ministry to spend 30 billion baht compensating the Australia-based gold mining firm whose operations at the site were suspended under a regime order last year.

Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd, the parent company of Akara Resources Plc which operated the Chatree gold mine in Phichit, has entered into an arbitration process with Thailand under the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. The company said the government's order was unlawful and caused substantial damages.