ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thai gold firm plans listing
Thailand's largest gold miner, Akara Mining, confirms it is ready to list its shares on the Stock Exchange of Thailand in the fourth quarter of this year after previous delays because of shareholder reluctance.
Local residents express their concerns about environmentally related restrictions that could threaten the future of the Chatree mine.
"It has always been our intent to make a truly Thai company listed so that all Thais have the opportunity to buy shares of a gold mine,'' said Phil MacIntyre, general manager of the subsidiary of the Australian gold miner Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd, which holds 49 percent of the company's stake.
Akara has invested US$125 million to expand its plant, and the upgrade should be ready by the third quarter this year. Capacity will expand from 2.35 million tonnes of ore per year to 5 million.
Gold prices have risen from $300 an ounce at the end of 2001 to $1,350 now. Mr MacIntyre expects the price to stay in a range of $1,300 to $1,600 this year.
He said delays in a government review of gold mining surveys had hurt the company financially as Akara has a new mine waiting for approval.
General manager Phil MacIntyre promises a protection strip will be set up between the mine and local communities to prevent the spread of dust.
Gold mining surveys were put on hold following a complaint by the Human Rights Commission in December 2007 concerning their effects on the environment. The cabinet at the time ordered the law be revised to take into account the impact on the environment and people's health. Mr. MacIntyre said Akara would lose the opportunity to mine around 10,000 ounces of gold in the next six months.
Mr. Chaiwuti visited communities in Phichit province yesterday following the suspension on January 12 of the second phase of Akara's Chatree North mining lease during nighttime due to environmental issues.
He said that if Akara did not follow the measures the suspension might be extended. Akara plans to set up a protection strip between the mine and the communities to prevent the spread of dust.
About 200 people gathered yesterday to protest against the suspension of the mine, fearing its closure.
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