The control of mining operations in ThailandAlthough commercially rewarding for both private and public sectors, mining is highly hazardous to the environment. In the past, Thailand has had various complaints filed from locals living around mining areas regarding the effects of mining operations. These impacts include noise pollution, excessive dust accumulation, and leakage of arsenic in water supplies, all of which contribute to the country's leading environmental concerns. However, the rise in government spending on environmental protection has enabled the state to pay more attention to mining operations with a long-term focus on sustainability.
Mining in Thailand is currently regulated under the Minerals Act. A general rule stipulates that mineral extraction requires a mining license and granted concessions, regardless of the ownership status of the area. Additionally, underground mining and other operations that could cause leakage from lead and arsenic substances are required to undergo an environmental and health impact assessment. These mining businesses must also be responsible for the proper disposal of toxic waste they produce and for rehabilitating the affected areas that were deteriorated from mining. In recent years, the number of mines in Thailand has declined, partially due to greater control of mining operations since 2017.
The important minerals in ThailandThailand substantially produces industrial minerals such as limestone, granite, and basalt. The demand for these materials is determined by the country's increasing levels of urbanization since the construction industry substantially requires the use of these materials. Another essential mineral for the construction industry is gypsum, a soft sulfate mineral, which is a significant component in cement production. Other important non-metallic minerals in Thailand include lignite, dolomite, rock salt, potash, feldspar, and glass sand.
Thailand also has metal deposits such as gold, zinc, tin, iron, and tungsten. Base metal mineral deposits such as tin can be found primarily in the southern region. Although once a crucial product in the 1800s, tin production in Thailand has remained relatively stagnant due to environmental concerns and mineral depletion. Besides base metals, precious metals such as gold are also found in the country's eastern regions. However, Thailand does not engage in gold mining operations since the environmental damage from gold extraction far outweighs its economic benefits. Therefore, Thailand has mainly relied on importing gold, whose import value has decreased in recent years.