Potash mining still boiling issue despite councillors' votes

national October 08, 2015 01:00

By Chularat Saengpassa
The Natio

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LOCALS IN two tambons of Udon Thani's Prachaksinlapakhom district continue to oppose a project to launch potash-mining operations in their hometown, even after their local administrative bodies had voted on the issue.

These two tambons are Huai Sam Phad and Na Muang.

On September 25, Tambon Huai Sam Phad Administrative Organisation voted against the project, while the Tambon Na Muang Administrative Organisation voted for it.

Opponents of the project in Tambon Huai Sam Phad remain active because they want to make sure potash mining will not take place in their hometown. Opponents of the project in Tambon Na Muang, meanwhile, have planned to petition the Udon Thani Administrative Court over allegations that public forums on the project were not properly organised.

Asia Pacific Potash Corp (APPC) plans to launch mining operations in five tambons of Udon Thani’s Prachaksinlapakhom district, including Huai Sam Phad and Na Muang.

Manee Boonrawd, who has long fought against the project, submitted a letter directly to Udon Thani’s industry chief Thanawat Lert-sukhon this week asking that the APPC project exclude Tambon Huai Sam Phad from its operation.

“Locals are worried the project will endanger their environment, health and way of life,” she said. “By majority vote, our councillors have disapproved the project”.

Of 25 councillors of Tambon Huai Sam Phad administrative organisation, 12 voted “no” to the APPC mining project while nine voted “yes”. Four councillors abstained. Thanawat said he would inform the Industry Ministry of the local people’s wishes.

For about 14 years, a large number of locals in Tambon Na Muang have fought against the mining project alongside the like-minded in Tambon Huai Sam Phad.

However, when the decisive voting was held on September 25, 13 councillors of Tambon Na Muang administrative organisation approved the project. Six others disapproved while seven abstained.

Udon Thani environment conservation group secretary Decha Khambaomuang said one public forum on the project took place at night and lacked a quorum,

“How can it be used for [supporting] the project?” he asked.

He said the report prepared by the APPC for its potash-mining project must be illegal because it was based on an inappropriately organised public forum.

“We will ask the court to invalidate the report,” Decha said.

He said locals would not accept the mining operations in tambon Na Muang because the site was near community zones, schools, colleges, and medical facilities.

On Decha’s proposal, Thanawat said Industry Minister Atchaka Sibunruang would look into this project and make a decision.

“If she disapproves the project, it will be scrapped. But if she approves the project, a public hearing will be held in Udon Thani to listen to the opinions of locals again,” Thanawat said.


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