Thai PM defends goldmine closure, concession renewal
During the debate in parliament today (Friday), the Thai prime minister was accused by the opposition of renewing a goldmining concession in exchange for Australia-based Kingsgate Consolidated Limited withdrawing the ongoing lawsuit seeking compensation from the Thai government for what it regards as the illegal closure of its goldmining operations in Thailand.
In response, the prime minister defended his government’s invocation of Section 44 of the interim Constitution which granted him absolute power to speed up certain processes, to close the Kingsgate Consolidated’s subsidiary Akara Resources Chatree goldmine in Phichit province in 2016 and the recent decision to renew the goldmining concession for the same company.
The prime minister explained that there was a misunderstanding on the part of Kingsgate, in believing that his government had nationalised Akara Resources’ goldmining operations to operate the mine itself.
He maintained that the use of Section 44 to close down the goldmining operations in 2016 was intended to protect people living around the mine, many of whom had been suffering health problems, allegedly caused by toxic substances leaking into the environment from the mining activities.
He insisted that not only the Akara mine, but also other goldmining operations were closed using the broad powers of Section 44.
The prime minister denied that his government extended the mining concession to Akara Resources in exchange for the dropping of the lawsuit, adding that the concession was the same one which was suspended in 2016.
He also dismissed the opposition’s suggestion that the government will allow Akara Resources to undertake mining activities in a national park or a wildlife sanctuary.