Thailand has beautiful blue oceans, warm sandy beaches, interesting culture, and pleasant people. What more could you want? Oh that’s right, you’re here for the gold.
Incredible gemstones and loads of gold can be found at markets in Bangkok, but knowing where to go to do your own prospecting can be a bit tricky. If you have the time and mobility it can be helpful to simply drive along the rivers until you see locals panning, but most don’t have that sort of time.
Fortunately there is an abundance of gold to be found throughout Thailand and if you set up near any of the main mining areas you are bound to find something. Most of the locals near any of the mines will know exactly where they are located and can point you in the right direction.
There are three main mines being worked by these larger companies: Palitapan, Kabinburi, and Chatree.
Largest Mines in Thailand
Located just 150 kilometers south east from Bangkok, the Palitapan Mine was founded in 2005 and is now under the complete ownership of Thai Goldfields. The mine is primarily focused on the Ivanhoe North Prospect. Initial drilling included a 380 hole RAB bedrock drilling and a 21 hold RC drill-hole initiative. The drilling opened up an area of 2 kilometers by 0.5 kilometers.
The Kabinburi Mine can be found in the Kabinburi district of Prachinburi Province in south eastern Thailand. The mine has been built over a “belt of gold” that natives have known about since the late 1800’s. This is another mine that is owned by the Thai Goldfield company. The mining area covers 48 square kilometers and the gold found here is found with quartz, calcite, pyrite, and garnet.
The Chatree Mine could arguably be the most well-known gold mine in Thailand. This complex is owned and operated by the Australian Kingsgate company. Located in central Thailand, 280 kilometers north of Bangkok is this heavy producing strip of land. Since mining began in late 2001 more than 1.6 million ounces of gold and 7.5 million ounces of silver had been collected. That should be enough of an indication that there is likely much more gold yet to be found in the surrounding area.
Gold Deposits throughout Thailand
Obviously you will not be able to mine directly on the same land as these mining operations but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of opportunities just outside of these hotbeds. Throughout Thailand more than 76 gold deposits have been found throughout the 31 provinces. These same deposits are estimated to hold a whopping 700 tons of gold ore just waiting to be discovered! Some of these 76 hold enough gold to be potential mining sites in the future. This means that there is much to be found by artisanal prospectors in the meantime.
The majority of these incredible deposits can be found in the granite mountains of upper-central Thailand, and in the Korat Plateau found in the most western areas of the northeast. If you’re already headed south you might want to check out Tambon Ron Thong in the Prachuap Khiri Khan Bang Saphan district. This area is known for having not only lots of gold but also gold of high quality. In Thailand this gold is referred to as thong noppakhun or thong nuea kao.
Also Read: Gold Mining in Myanmar
Challenges for Small-scale Miners
There are many small-scale miners who find gold in many rivers and streams that flow throughout Thailand. These deposits are abundant throughout the known gold-bearing areas.
The heavy overburden is a challenge for those who want to set up a larger mining operation, as vegetation and soil must be stripped to access gold rich bedrock. Most prospectors in Thailand are using traditional placer mining techniques to process alluvial gold deposits.
These alluvial deposits are found within the river silts and are primarily composed of very small gold particles. Various methods such as panning and sluicing aid in the recovery of tiny bits of gold, which then melted together and sold to local gold buyers.
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