Thailand shuts down Australian gold mine over health fears

Thai authorities have ordered the suspension for 30 days of an Australian gold mine in northern Thailand amid concerns over the health of thousands of villagers living nearby.

Random urine and blood tests showed above-standard arsenic and manganese levels in villagers near Kingsgate Consolidated's Chatree gold mine 280 kilometres north of Bangkok, according to Porntip Rojanasunan, director-general of the Justice Ministry's Central Institute of Forensic Science.

An order from the institute says "we are of the opinion the mining might have affected the health of villagers."

Tay Ninh to suspend polluting firms

Tapioca and rubber manufacturers that polluted the environment in the southwestern province of Tay Ninh would be suspended from operations, said the local Department of Natural Resources and Environment director, Nguyen Dinh Xuan.

"There are 74 tapioca and 27 rubber manufacturers in Tay Ninh, but only 31 of them have installed A-level wastewater treatment systems," said Xuan.

The municipal People's Committee had ordered the remaining manufacturers to install the system by late June or face suspension, but they failed to meet the deadline.

Environmental agencies admonished

The Environmental Protection Ministry publicly admonished 34 environmental impact assessment agencies on Wednesday after an inspection.

Among the punished agencies, eight had their environmental impact assessment qualification canceled, 24 were ordered to rectify and improve their performances within three months to a year, and two received warnings.

The 24 agencies that have to rectify their performances are not allowed to accept new EIA projects during that period, according to a statement by the ministry.