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Akara Expedites the Establishment of a Fund Committee to Enhance Community Involvement in Fund Management before Mine Reopening

On 18 January 2023, Akara Resources Public Company Limited, the owner of the Chatree Gold Mine, together with community leaders, community representatives, and relevant government agencies including provincial industrial departments and provincial educational institutions, totaling 50 individuals, established a fund management committee for community development around the mining area. Additionally, a committee was formed to oversee the health fund of the local population, in accordance with the policy framework and strategic plan for mineral resource management in the gold mining areas, B.E. 2565. This restructuring allowed community leaders and representatives from the three surrounding provinces – Phichit, Phetchabun, and Phitsanulok – to play a role in fund management to maximize benefits for the local population, ensuring sustainable coexistence between the mine and the community.

Mr. Cherdsak Utha-aroon, the General Manager – Sustainability and Akara’s representative at this meeting, disclosed that Akara had previously contributed over 243 million baht to various funds with the intention of utilizing these funds as another mechanism to drive community development. However, the majority of these funds were used for academic projects, making it challenging for the community to access them. This led to the collaborative effort to streamline the fund management structure to better serve the community’s needs.

The Department of Primary Industries and Mines has kindly accepted proposals from community leaders for consideration in drafting regulations. Henceforth, the authority for managing both funds will lie with the committees representing the local population. This will streamline communication channels, ensuring that project proposals, approvals, fund disbursements, and progress tracking align more closely with the community’s development needs, enhancing their quality of life significantly,” Mr. Cherdsak added.

According to the Ministry of Industry’s announcement regarding the policy framework and strategic plan for mineral resource management, issued by the Department of Primary Industries and Mines, the Company must contribute to four funds, amounting to 22% of the annual royalties paid by the Company or no less than 65 million baht annually.

As for the Community Development Fund around the mining area, its objective is to support activities or projects related to community development within a 3-kilometer radius of the mining area. The Company is required to contribute 5% of the royalties paid annually, not less than 15 million baht per year throughout its operation period. Regarding the Health Surveillance Fund, its purpose is to support activities or projects related to health surveillance of the local population within a 5-kilometer radius of the mine. The Company is required to contribute 3% of the royalties paid annually, not less than 10 million baht per year throughout its operation period.

Mr. Niphon Phomnoi, the headman of Khao Chet Luk Subdistrict, Tap Khlo District, Phichit Province, stated, “After the Director-General of the Department of Primary Industries and Mines appointed the fund committee, we will promptly establish criteria and conditions to ensure that they are beneficial and accountable. This will make it easier to assess and provide flexibility, meeting the needs of the community within a 3-kilometer radius.”

One of the projects expected to benefit from the Community Development Fund is the Chili Paste and Curry Paste by Housewives Group, as mentioned by Mr. Somchai Laemnak, the headman of Village 7, Tai Dong Subdistrict, Wang Pong District, Phetchabun Province. He said, “The village has diversified its chili and curry paste products and has planned to expand the network to provide additional income for families and community.”

In conclusion, Mr. Cherdsak emphasized, “Akara values community participation. Previously, the Company announced job opportunities for local residents to work at the mine. With the approval of the Department of Primary Industries and Mines, the community has a greater role in fund management. We hope these funds will be another key mechanism for community development moving forward.”

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