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Thailand orders shutdown of Kingsgate's Chatree gold mine by year-end

The government of Thailand has ordered 'soperating subsidiary Akara Resources to shut down operations at the gold mine andmetallurgical plant by the end of 2016 and start the rehabilitation process,Bloomberg News reported May 10, citing the country's industry minister, AtchakaSribunruang.

The government claims that the environmental and healthproblems caused by Chatree outweigh its economic benefits, Bloomberg reported,citing the industry minister.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha was quoted as saying thatthe government will have to assist more than 1,000 employees who will beaffected.

Akara stated it was surprised by the decision and maintainsits operations are causing no harm to the health of the community and theenvironment. The group had been working toward a five-year renewal of Chatree'smetallurgical license, which is due to expire this week.

"Even though there is no clear conclusion whether theenvironmental and health impact and problems of local residents comes fromAkara's gold mining, we need to make the decision for the public's benefit andto solve the conflicts," Atchaka said.

Early in 2015, the company was ordered to temporarilyhalt production andinvestigate potential arsenic and manganese contamination of villages near themine. However, the company denies it has used or is using arsenic or manganeseat the site.

In April, the company lowered its current-year forChatree to between 95,000 ounces and 105,000 ounces, and Kingsgate wasanticipating the deferred ounces to be mined in 2017.