6 June 2024

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has instructed the Ministry of Industry to ramp up the mining of potash in Thailand’s north-eastern provinces or call for bids for new mining concessions if the current concessionaires are unable to increase supply.

Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said the prime minister told his cabinet on Tuesday that Thailand has a huge reserve of potash underground in the northeast, the fourth largest after Canada, Belarus and Germany, but the ore, which is key resource for the production of chemical fertilizer, has not yet been extracted, even though mining concessions were granted to three companies years ago.

One of the concessionaires, granted the mining right eight years ago, is still unable to begin mining, while the two others are experiencing funding problems, said Chai.

Thailand’s potash reserves, estimated at about 400 billion tonnes, are located in two major basins, namely the Sakhon Nakhon basin, which comprises Sakhon Nakhon, Nong Khai and Udon Thani, and the Korat basin, which comprises Khon Kaen, Kalasin, Maha Sarakham, Roi-et, Yasothon, Ubon Ratchathani, Si Sa Ket, Chaiyaphum and Nakhon Ratchasima.

Potash mining has run into strong opposition from local villagers and environment groups, claiming that wastewater discharged from the mines will contaminate their farm land.

Thailand imports approximately four million tonnes of chemical fertilizer each year.