Heavy Metal Poisoning | Thailand Insurance Service

Australian Owned Gold Mine in Thailand Undergoes Tests for Heavy Metal Poisoning

Standing in the house where she has lived since she was born 45 years ago, a local resident never thought that heavy metal poisoning from mining pollution, would inhibit her lifestyle, she points to the temple where her grandparents took her to pray as a child.

During festivals, hundreds of people from nearby provinces flocked here. Women gossiped and cooked together in a huge kitchen, while men exchanged stories of farming and boar hunting.

But the village of her memories is gone. The temple still stands, but no one visits it. The school building has crumbled to the ground and been swallowed by overgrown trees.

She stands alone in a ghost town, her neighbours long gone. Khao Mo, the mountain her village is named for, has been hollowed out into an open-pit gold mine, its highest point now standing just 100 meters (330 feet) above her house.

In November 2001, Thailand’s first modern gold mine started operations. With a Thai name meaning bravery, the Chatree Mining Complex is owned by Akara Resources Public Company, a subsidiary of Sydney-based Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd.

Chatree, which straddles the provinces of Phichit and Phetchabun in central Thailand, is made up of two ore fields and two processing plants, and has produced more than 1.8 million ounces (51,000 metric tons) of gold and more than 10 million ounces (283,00 metric tons) of silver since it began production.

It was shut down in January 2017, following years of complaints and lawsuits from people living nearby, who say mining pollution damaged their health and the environment.

 Akara sued the Thai government for revoking its permit. That case remains pending in an international arbitration tribunal, but in January 2022, the government agreed to allow the mine to reopen.

Toxic levels of cyanide

Cyanide has long been used in gold mines to extract the valuable gold from the ore. But in high concentrations it is toxic, leading to a ban on its use in gold and silver due to mining pollution in countries including the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Costa Rica, as well as some US states.

“They told us we will be safe here, but it is not,” Manit says. “I have been living with the cyanide pond for years.”

Akara denies allegations of heavy metal leaks, and says it has worked closely and carefully with the communities to make sure residents around the mine have a better life and are in good health. “Several blood tests showed no harm to anyone,” Cherdsak says.

New requirements for mining operations

 The Thai government has introduced a new National Gold Policy. New regulations include a requirement that mining firms undertake extensive studies to establish baseline environmental and human health indicators to serve as benchmarks for ongoing testing and monitoring. The act also calls creates a community protection mechanism, and stipulates that gold should also be refined within the country instead of being exported raw.

There are various issues that can occur when mining, producing, exporting and importing which can lead to pollution in the environment. Ensure your company is covered with Pollution Insurance which Thailand Insurance Service are happy to help you find the right policy for you. 



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