EARTH Thailand

Locals accuse authorities of negligence, pro-mining firm bias as deadline imposed for ending potash protest

The Nation 14 May 2018 | Pratch Rujivanarom

As an official deadline was imposed on their ongoing protest against potash exploration in Sakon Nakhon, local demonstrators publicly criticised the authorities for abandoning human-rights protection and working solely in favour of a Chinese mining company.

Those demonstrating against potash exploration in the area continued their protest and blocked the entrance to the drilling site on Monday, despite the police having displayed a notice that their protest was against the Public Gathering Act and that they must end their action by midday on Tuesday.

The protesters against potash mining in Sakon Nakhon’s Wanon Niwat district released a statement highlighting what they said was negligence on the part of the authorities in regard to their duty to protect the people’s interest, and their failure to comply with local people’s demand to halt the exploration mission and ensure China Mingda Potash Corporation had followed all legal requirements for exploring for the mineral in their communities.

Monday marked the fifth consecutive day that the local residents had banded together and tried to stop the exploration team of China Mingda from entering the fourth drilling site to explore the amount of potash underground, which locals fear will finally lead to the construction of an underground mine in their locality.

Following the intervention from the local authorities, police and military officers, the protesters expressed their disappointment toward the authorities’ actions, which they said not only ignored the people’s demands, but also overtly facilitated the mission of the Chinese potash-mining company.

Therefore, the demonstrators took to publicly condemning the authorities in their statement and expressed their intention to further pursue their original demands to stop potash exploration in their area.

Primary Industries and Mines Department director-general Wisanu Tabtieng clarified last Friday that the China Mingda potash-exploration plan had received full permission from the landowner, and that it was legal for the operation to go ahead.

As of 6pm, China Mingda decided to withdraw all equipment out of the area without drilling a potash exploration well.