Phetchabun people oppose renewed gold exploration
Anti-gold mining groups gathered in Nong Pai district of Thailand’s northern province of Phetchabun on Saturday to oppose any mining-related activities after it was reported that a mining company has been granted permission to explore for gold on a huge tract of land in the province.
The protesters, who gathered at the office of the Nong Pai Foundation in Nong Pai district, are demanding that the provincial industrial chief, who was reported to have granted the license, clear the air about whether he actually gave the permission or not.
It is also reported that the Phetchabun provincial governor ordered the official to issue a clarification on Wednesday.
Mrs. Sutthaya Kurin, a resident of Tambon Na Chaliang in Nong Pai district, told a Thai PBS reporter that she wondered how the exploration permission could be granted after the government issued an executive order in 2016 suspending all gold mining activities.
She said, however, that a mining company had sought permission to explore for copper instead, adding that officials of the mining firm had approached several local people to try to convince them to support mining activities, claiming that they will bring prosperity to their communities.
One of the firms affected by the Thai government’s suspension of mining activities was Chatree, in Phichit and Phetchabun provinces, which is the Thai subsidiary of Australia’s Kingsgate Consolidated.
Kingsgate has entered into an arbitration process with Thailand, under the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement, claiming that the Thai government’s order is unlawful and has caused substantial damage to the company.