Thai villagers have been involved in a lengthy struggle to stop the development of what would be Thailand's first large scale underground mine. Villagers have been blocking the site for months, organising numerous demonstrations, and have recently collected 5000 signatures petitioning against the mine. The mining company involved is Canada's Asia Pacific Resources (APR). APR is a small exploration company headquartered in New Brunswick (with offices in Vancouver) whose only asset is the Thai property.
In 2002 the Thai Minerals Act was adapted specifically to allow this mine to go ahead. Under prior legislation in Thailand, APR would have had to seek consent from each of the landowners under whose property APR will mine and would have had to compensate these landowners. Under the new legislation APR need only concern itself with the landowners immediately affected by the above-ground operations of the mine.
The changes to the Minerals Act were constitutionally challenged by Thai senators but the amending bill was upheld. Nonetheless, Thailand's Minister of Natural Resources and Environment recently ordered a new environmental impact assessment for the mine, as independent experts and citizens groups found the one submitted by APR last year incomplete and failed to include consultation with affected communities. Numerous serious potential environmental impacts from the proposed mine have been identified by independent experts, including widespread subsidence as a result of the relatively shallow mine.
For more information see:
1) Backgrounder, September 2002
2) Press release of September 24, 2002 "Canadian Potash Company Faces Constitutional Hurdles, Community Opposition in Thailand"
3) Press release of December 23, 2002 "Thousands of Thai Villagers Protest Canadian Potash Mine"
4) Letter from PER to the IFC asking if it plans to fund this project.