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Villagers affected by gold mine to petition PM in Phichit

People living in areas around the Chatree gold mine in Phichit province are expected to lodge a petition with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha when he visits Bung Seefai in Muang district of this northern province on Monday.

An informed source close to the villagers said Sunday that the villagers who have been affected by gold mining operations by Akaka Resources Public Company, a subsidiary of Australian mining corporation, Kingsgate, would voice their opposition to any attempt to allow the resumption of gold mining operations at the Chatree gold mine and to demand authorities concerned to address health and environmental problems caused to their communities and residents.

The prime minister plans to visit Phichit and a few other central provinces as part of his 4thmobile cabinet meeting.

The source further said that the villagers would also voice their objection against any attempt to allow gold explorations in 12 provinces countrywide, including Phichit, Phitsanuloke, Lop Buri, Loei, Satun, Sa Kaew, Surat Thani, Chanthaburi, Rayong, Saraburi, Nakhon Sawan and Petchabun.

The source also noted that a new problem had emerged after the Forest Department had demanded the return of land in Sak Lek district of Phichit occupied by about 1,000 households to be turned into forest.

Gold mining operations at Chatree gold mine has been suspended since January last year by an order issued by the prime minister by virtue of Section 44 of the interim Constitution to put an end of the conflict between the mining company and villagers living around the gold mine who charged that pollutants and hazardous substances had been leaked out of the mine, threatening their health and environment.

Kingsgate filed a lawsuit against the Thai government with the international arbitration commission over what it alleged as unfair suspension of gold mining operations by Akaka Resources and the matter is now under arbitration proceedings.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS)