Cabinet orders closure of controversial gold mine

The cabinet has ordered the closure of a controversial gold mine in the northern province of Phichit by the end of 2016, adding that the Labour Ministry will assist about 1,000 mine workers once it closes down.  

Pattraporn Tanngam, a journalist from Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS), reported on Tuesday, 10 May 2016, that the cabinet under Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, the junta leader and Prime Minister, ordered the closure of the Chatree Akara gold mine in the northern province of Phichit, which is operated by Akara Resources Plc.

The mining company, however, will be allowed to continue mining operations until the end of 2016. The cabinet resolution was reached as the mining concession of the company is about to expire on 13 May 2016.

According to the resolution, the mine shall be closed by the end of 2016 and the mine operator shall begin procedures to rehabilitate the environment around the mining area.

The resolution also states the Ministry of Public Health shall take care of people whose health has been affected by the mine and that the Labour Ministry will assist employees of the mine once it ceases operations.

The cabinet added that they will cooperate with the governor of Phichit to allocate funds from the Regional Development Budget to develop the area.

Many people from Phichit, Phetchabun and Phitsanulok provinces travelled to Government House in anticipation of the cabinet resolution on the mining concession.

The controversial gold mine has been opposed by many villagers and environmentalists who claimed that the mining operations of the company have affected their health and livelihoods. However, many villagers in the area also support Akara, saying that the company provides jobs to many people in the region.

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