Korat locals protest against potash mining expansion

Photo courtesy of The Nation

Korat locals gathered in force to protest against the government’s controversial plan to grant additional mining concessions in their province. Amid growing tensions and heartfelt pleas, the demonstrators demanded compensation for the devastating impacts existing mines have already had on their lives.

The protesters, arriving at Rajabhat Nakhon Ratchasima University at 9am, were determined to deliver their message to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin. They assembled banners depicting the environmental degradation caused by potash mines, such as salt spills ruining local rice fields.

One protest leader made a dramatic statement.

“If you really want to go ahead with making fertiliser this way, then you may as well take our corpses to make it.”

Despite their efforts, government officials bypassed the protesters, entering the venue through an alternate gate. This move did little to deter the passionate crowd from Non Thai, Non Sung, Mueang, and Dan Khun Thot districts, where both proposed and operational mining sites are located.

The protest leaders took turns addressing the crowd, vehemently opposing the government’s accelerated plans to open more potash mines. They accused Prime Minister Srettha of prioritising profit over people, noting the expansion from an initial goal of 800,000 tonnes of potash for local fertiliser to a staggering 3 million tonnes aimed at export.

In a symbolic act of defiance, the protesters threatened to burn their letter of demand unless it was received personally by the prime minister. Industry Minister Pimpatra Wichaikul eventually accepted the letter on the Thai PM’s behalf but not without incident. Initially receiving the letter through the gate’s bars, a protest leader remarked it felt like they were prisoners, prompting authorities to open the gate fully.

Adding to the theatrics, protesters poured salt collected from their contaminated fields onto the ground before Pimpatra, symbolising their plight. They demanded the cancellation of the new master plan on mineral resource management, which they claimed would permit mining without proper environmental assessments.

They also called for urgent studies on the environmental and community impacts in Dan Khun Thot, alongside rehabilitation efforts for affected villagers, reported The Nation.

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Puntid Tantivangphaisal

Originally from Hong Kong, Puntid moved to Bangkok in 2020 to pursue further studies in translation. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Hong Kong. Puntid spent 8 years living in Manchester, UK. Before joining The Thaiger, Puntid has been a freelance translator for 2 years. In her free time, she enjoys swimming and listening to music, as well as writing short fiction and poetry.

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