On 23 – 24 September, the anti-coal mining group of Rak Ban Haeng celebrated the 12th anniversary of successfully stopping the development of a lignite mine next to their village in Ngao district of Lampang province. The event called ‘12 Years of Fighting the Mine’ was joined by several anti-mining groups, mainly from the Northeast region. The celebration involved activities, including discussion forums by mining experts and affected villagers.
The community of Ban Haeng has been protesting a proposed mining project by a private company since 2012. During that time, the community faced intimidation and threats to silence their opposition, including ten criminal lawsuits filed against them. In response, the villagers set up security gates on roads leading in and out of the community to protect themselves.
In 2015, hundreds of villagers filed three lawsuits against the Ministry of Industry, the Director of the Department of Primary Industries and Mines, and six other officials involved in the project with Bangkok’s Administrative Court. The villagers requested the court withdraw the company’s mining licence, saying that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not transparent, correct or adequate, the Royal Forest Department should not have permitted the use of the land, and that the mandatory public hearings did not occur.
The community won the cases in March and April 2020 after successfully proving that the conflict with the mining company was still not resolved and the process of securing the mining licence was illegitimate. However, the company can still appeal the verdict.
Chuthima Chuenjai, a community leader and women human rights defender from Ban Heang, said “My ultimate dream is to do away with all mining and put it to rest. While the excavation has not commenced, the licences were illegally obtained and the EIA was unlawful. I want everything to be restored to its original state and peace restored in my community.”
Photo: Courtesy of www.facebook.com/Lampangmining