A network of about 40 civic groups and local organizations in Thailand’s eastern province of Chanthaburi including Arnika's partner organization EARTH oppose granting of approval for gold exploration on two plots by a Richapoom mining company. These plots are located in the eastern region’s last forested area with the Ang Rue Nai wildlife sanctuary and Khao Wong-Khao Chamao, Khao Sibhachan, Khao Soi Dao and Khao Kitchakoot national parks. The forest is also the source of the Chanthaburi River and is home to about 400 wild elephants.
As stated by the Thai PBS news, “the application for gold exploration permission is the first step toward gold mining in the future, which will ruin the environment and the economy of the province and affect the health of the people living close to the mining area, due to toxic chemicals, such as cyanide, which are used in the gold extraction process”. Local organizations also noted that the Chanthaburi development plan aims to transform the province into a hub for clean agriculture, the gem industry, tourism and cross-border trade and revenues from these industries and agriculture are many times higher than the mining royalties that the government would be expected to receive from the mining company.
Prime Minister’s Office Minister Anucha Nakasai, who was handed the protest letter on February 10th, told the representatives of the network that the government will not ignore their concerns, but will take their opposition and the proposal of the mining company into consideration to ensure benefits for all concerned.