Locals protest against dolomite mine near Thai national park

Photo courtesy of InThailand.Travel

Protests erupted near Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi as locals voiced their opposition to the opening of a private dolomite mine on a 540-rai plot of land, situated just 1 kilometre from the national park. Concerns centre around the potential negative impacts on their way of life and the park’s environment.

Somchet Chantana, Director of the Phetchaburi Office of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), recently visited the disputed land alongside World Heritage Committee officials and park rangers.

Somchet highlighted three primary concerns regarding the mine. Firstly, the World Heritage Committee may disapprove of the mine due to its location within a buffer zone of the Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex, a World Heritage Site. This complex extends into the forest areas of three national parks and one wildlife sanctuary across Ratchaburi, Phetchaburi, and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces.

Secondly, there are worries about the noise and air pollution that mining activities could generate. Lastly, the potential adverse effects on tourism in the national park and surrounding areas are also a significant concern.

Villagers in Phetchaburi’s Kaeng Krachan district complained to park authorities on Monday, stating that a private company had inspected the intended location for its dolomite mine. The proposed site is approximately 1 kilometre from the national park.

The private company has submitted a request to park authorities to operate the mine in Moo 4 and Moo 8 villages in the Song Pee Nong subdistrict within the Kaeng Krachan district. According to the company’s map distributed to locals, the mine would occupy a 540-rai plot of land that includes a bamboo forest and large trees.

Disputed land boundary

A map from Phetchaburi’s DNP office indicates that the disputed land lies within a buffer zone, with the boundary of Kaeng Krachan National Park located 1.14 kilometres away.

Atita Klinsuwan, an official at an Industry Ministry office in Phetchaburi province, stated that the company’s request is currently under consideration. She added that the final decision on whether to permit the mine will rest with the local community.

In 2008, a different company submitted a proposal to establish a dolomite mine at the same location. The proposal faced opposition from locals and the mine was never opened.

“The locals have always been protective of their environment and heritage. Their concerns are valid, and every measure will be taken to address them.

“The potential impact on the World Heritage Site is a critical factor. We must consider the broader implications on the environment and the community.”

The tension between development and conservation continues to shape the discourse in Phetchaburi, with the outcome of this dispute likely to set a precedent for future projects near protected areas, reported Bangkok Post.

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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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