Supreme court revokes Dong Mafai permit, ending Thailand’s longest mining conflict

UDON THANI – On 17 February 2023, Udon Thani Supreme Administrative Court revoked the mining permits of the quarries in the Khao Kloy and Na Klang Forest Reserve in Dong Mafai District, Nong Bua Lamphu province. 

The court ruled that the Environmental Impacts Assessment (EIA), undertaken in 2000 by the mining company, does not suit the situation any longer and revoked the related permits for the mining itself and the use of the surrounding forest.

A hundred anti-mining community members attended the court hearing. After the court’s decision, they carried out a traditional blessing ceremony on the steps of the court and insisted on their determination of returning the mining area to a community forest and eco-cultural tourist attraction.

“I’m very happy that we have been hand in hand fighting until the victory today. We have shut down the mine with our own hands,” said Buarong Nata, women human rights defender of the local conservation group. 

 

 

In the early 1990s, a conflict broke out between communities surrounding a collection of limestone outcrops and a private mining company. Fearing the mine’s environmental impact on the surrounding communities and nearby sacred religious sites, a local community group tried to stop it, organising protests and strongly voicing their concerns. 

Infuriated by the lack of public consultation, community members brought the issue to the court against the related authorities in 2012. The private company continued to appeal despite the first court decision to revoke the permits in 2018.

The conflict continued for decades and led to the killing of four community members as well as death threats of several people who were working to assist the community. Determined to reach a solution, the anti-mining activists blockaded the main road leading to the mine in 2019 and set up a makeshift camp that is still occupied today. The community will continue their forest rehabilitation project in the area.

 

Report by Nicha Wachpanich

 

Read our story about the epic struggle of Dong Mafai HERE

 

Photos courtesy of เหมืองแร่หนองบัว

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