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Gold mine in Thailand to run until government orders shutdown
May 12, 2016

The gold mine at the center of Thailand’s orders of a mining shut down has not received formal orders to cease operations and will continue on with business as usual, for now.

Reuters reported that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha this week told reporters that gold mining in the country would be abolished by the end of the year because of protests from farmers and villagers who say the Chatree gold mine has poisoned residents, crops and livestock.

In January 2015, a military government investigation team said that more than 300 people had tested positive for arsenic and manganese at the mine, located 280 km (174 miles) north of the capital Bangkok and operated by Kingsgate unit Akara Resources.

The company at the time denied the claims and was allowed to reopen after a 44-day suspension.

Kingsgate said previous tests carried out by the government indicated that about 100 people living around the mine had high levels of toxic substances in their bodies, but investigations linking the finding to the mine were inconclusive.

"The government has yet to provide formal notification to close and until it does so, it is business as usual," a spokesman for Kingsgate told Reuters.

The company was assessing its options as well as its legal standing, the spokesman said.

Prayuth said an agreement has been reached between Akara and state agencies to offer health care to affected villagers.

Akara told reporters in Bangkok that it had no plans to sue the Thai government following an order earlier this week to close Thailand's mining industry.

"There is still no policy to use legal measures," Akara said in a statement. "This is a sensitive issue."

Akara has said the firm's mining lease was valid until 2028. Cherdsak Utha-aroon, a spokesman for Akara, said there was no clarity on what the firm can or can't do.

But Akara said in a statement the announcement had come as a surprise and the firm's mining lease was valid until 2028.

The Chatree mine produced and exported 4 tonnes (4,000 kgs) of gold in 2015, worth around $180 million at current prices.

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