Nakhon Ratchasima: A community group protesting against a potash mine in Dan Khun Thot district on Monday called on Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin to come to the area and listen to people's concerns.
Khanisorn Chairak, adviser to Khon Rak Ban Kerd Dan Khun Thot (native community group), said the premier should talk to farmers affected by the mining operations and address the problems they face.
His call came after Mr Srettha last week called on three potash mining concessionaires in the Northeast to commence mining operations as soon as possible.
The three concessionaires are Asia Pacific Potash Corporation Limited, Asean Potash Chaiyaphum Plc and Thai Kali Co.
According to Mr Srettha, fresh bids would have to be sought to find new concessionaires if operations are further delayed.
In June this year, some 150 farmers from three tambons in Dan Khun Thot district rallied at the Thao Suranari monument in Muang district, demanding the closure of a potash mine there for allegedly discharging wastewater onto their land.
They claimed wastewater was discharged from the mining area into the natural water supply and onto farmland, making the soil salty and reducing rice and other crop harvests. The concession covers about 9,000 rai of land across the three tambons.
Mr Khanisorn said the farmers have complained about contamination of water resources for years, but the issue has never been addressed, adding locals are concerned that the prime minister's instruction will worsen the situation.
He said if mining operations continue without the problems being addressed, it will cause massive environmental damage and locals have vowed to campaign for the complete closure of operations no matter how long it takes.
"So, we want the prime minister to inspect the area and see what the farmers are going through. Authorities concerned must speed up efforts to address these problems," he said.