The officials of the industry ministry announced on Tuesday that Thailand will close its only active gold mine by the end of 2016 after serious environmental concerns were raised.
The announcement was in the wake of reports that the mine was responsible for the contamination suffered by villagers. The Chatree mine has been the focus of protests by farmers and villagers who claim that the mine has poisoned residents, crops and livestock.
In January last year, a military government investigation team said that more than 300 people tested positive for arsenic and manganese at Akara Resources’ Chatree mine, which is located 280 km north of the capital Bangkok.
Akara, a subsidiary of Australian company Kingsgate Consolidated, produced and exported 4 tonnes of gold in 2015.
Addressing the media, Thai Prime Minister said: “There will no longer be any gold mines by the end of this year.”
In a statement, Industry Minister Atchaka Sibunruang said that while the mine can continue operating until the end of the year, an agreement has been reached between Akara and state agencies to offer healthcare to affected villagers.