The government intends to draw up a new master plan on the mining industry in which regulations on ore processing and community participation will be tightened, according to a national policy committee.
However, it remains uncertain if Akara Resources, formerly the largest gold mine operator in Thailand, will be allowed to resume its operation.
The committee, chaired by deputy premier Prawit Wongsuwan, on Monday set up a subcommittee to formulate the master plan. The aim is to increase the involvement of local communities and stakeholders where mining concessions are granted for various resources such as cement raw materials, potash and gold ore.
Community participation will figure prominently in operations of mining companies in their areas while exports of certain minerals such as gold ore will be banned, so they will be processed in Thailand.
Regarding environmental impacts caused by gold mining, new concessions will be granted under stricter conditions to avoid serious impacts on residents.
Previously, the government shut down Australia-owned Akara Mining’s Chatree gold mine in Phichit province due to health and environmental concerns.
Somboon Yindeeyungyeun, director-general of Department of Primary Industries and Mines, said community participation, benefits for local residents, and stricter supervision are key elements of the new master plan.
At this stage, there is no change regarding the shutdown order on Akara Mining’s operation, which was issued by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO). Somboon said a public health and environmental impact assessment is now under way and the findings will form the basis of any review of the NCPO’s shutdown order.