Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has asked three potash mining concessionaires to speed up the commencement of their mining operations, saying if they don't begin soon, fresh bids may have to be sought out to find new concessionaires to replace them.
"Thailand is the world's second-largest source of potash, after Canada. The chemical is high-priced and in high demand, particularly in China," he said.
"Three concessionaires have already been picked, but they have yet to begin the mining and need to be rushed," he said.
"In case they cannot begin [anytime soon], a new selection of concessionaires will be conducted."
The three concessionaires are Asia Pacific Potash Corporation Limited, Asean Potash Chaiyaphum Plc and Thai Kali Co.
On June 29 last year, the Ministry of Industry asked the previous cabinet to approve a new Asia Pacific Potash Corporation Limited potash mining project in Udon Thani, which the cabinet did.
Transport Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit, who was then the industry minister, said this potash mining project would contribute greatly to Thailand's bid to cope with the shortage of potash fertilisers.
With the capacity of mining 2 million tonnes of potash per year, concessionaires are expected to produce up to 33.67 million tonnes of potash during the 25-year term, he said at the time.
Asia Pacific Potash Corporation Limited has applied for the permit to begin operating the potash mine, while its Udon Thani mining project has already won approval in public hearings and passed an environmental impact assessment, said a source.
The permit is expected to be approved in six months to a year, said the source.
The ministry has already issued a potash mining permit to Asean Potash Chaiyaphum for its mining operation in Chaiyaphum and Thai Kali for its mining site in Nakhon Ratchasima, said the source.
These three mines have a combined production capacity of up to 3.2 million tonnes of potash per year, said the source.