Villagers protest against potash mine in Thailand’s northeast

More than 500 villagers in northeastern Thailand have gathered to oppose a potash mine, saying the mine operator bypassed the Environmental Impact Assessment process.  
 
On 25 September 2016, over 500 villagers from Wanon Niwat District, Sakon Nakhon Province, gathered at the District Office to oppose a local potash mining project. The project belongs to China Ming Ta Potash Corporation (Thailand), who were holding a public hearing at the District Office.
 
The title of the hearing was “Let Knowledgeable People Speak” with the main goal of educating local officials, community leaders and villagers about the mining project. 
 
The so-called “knowledgeable people” comprise a mining expert, a representative from the Mining Industry Council and officials from Department of Primary Industries and Mines (DPIM). 
 
When the hearing began, villagers from the Wanon Niwat Preservation Group staged a protest in front of the District Office. 
 
Other villagers who had been invited to the hearing then left the District Office to join the protest. The villagers’ representatives also submitted a petition to a DPIM official urging the Department to postpone the project. 
 
The petition states the corporation has not conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). 
 
“The majority of the local people were excluded and could not make any decision on the project that will directly affect their daily lives and community. Because the project was approved regardless of local people’s needs without an EIA study...this is a violation of the human rights of the people of Wanon Niwat District,” reads part of the petition. 
 
 
Villagers of Wanon Niwat District protest in front of the city hall