Loei gold mine, Thailand

Loei villagers fight to stop the operation of Tungkum Ltd. gold mine; they built walls to block the road and denounced the contamination of water and land with cyanide, arsenic, and mercury

The gold mine operated by Tungkum Limited (TKL), received the operational licence in 2006. Villagers in the Na Nong Bong community in Loei province live less than 2.5 kilometers from the mine. Since 2006 they have filed complaints against the mine's license in the attempts to mitigate the contamination of their villages. The gold mine was accused of poisoning the villagers' land and water supplies and causing serious health problems [2] Also, the community organization “People Who Love Their Hometown" (PWLTH) has been fighting to close the mine. Due to the pressure of villagers and NGOs who sent letters demanding the government to carry out chemical analysis of their rivers and soils, in 2009 the Ministry of Health conducted water tests.  The ministry reported dangerous levels of contaminants in local rivers and creeks. Also, according to analysis by the Loei Provincial Office of Public Health and Wang Saphung Hospital, there were cyanide, arsenic, and mercury levels that exceeded safety standards in the villagers' blood. Moreover, the mine operations has been accused in the courts for environmental destruction. The Abhisit administration ordered TKL to stop its expansion in this province since there will be more research on the causes of contaminations. However, according the PWLTH leader, to stop the expansion was not enough as their goal is to close the mine [6]. Since 2013, the residents of Na Nong Bong have blocked three times the entrance road to the mine by building a wall to block Tungkum Limited trucks. The wall also stands as a symbol of separation between what is good for the company and what is good for the people [3]. These protests resulted in fifteen lawsuits against villagers and a violent episode on May 15th 2014, when residents claimed they were attacked by more than 100 armed men wearing masks at midnight. The villagers claimed it was clearly a planned attack by the mining company. [4,5] On May 31, 2016, "a Thai court  found two men guilty of attacking villagers and human rights activists protesting against a gold mine in what an international rights watchdog called an important verdict for people standing up for communities"[8] .
Basic Data
NameLoei gold mine, Thailand
ProvinceLoei Province
SiteWang Saphung district
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Mineral processing
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesGold
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
Gold mine operated by Tungkum Ltd. (TKL), a subsidiary of Tongkah Harbour PCL.
See more...
Project Area (in hectares)207
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population3,000-4,000
Start Date2006
Company Names or State EnterprisesTungkum Limited (TKL) from Thailand
Relevant government actorsThe Ministery of Health

Wang Samphung District Officer

Abhisit administration

Gobernet cabinet resolution
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNetwork of Lecturers and Students for Society and the Environment

Environmental activist group Ecological Alert and Recovery — Thailand (EARTH).


International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) https://www.fidh.org/en/region/asia/thailand/

Khon Rak Ban Kerd Group (KRBKG): a community-based group committed

People Who Love Their Hometown (PWLTH): Na Nong Bong anti-mining group

CIEE: Khon Kaen’s Development and Globalization

The Human Rights Law Center for Society

Servicios Universitarios Y Redes de Conocimientos en Oaxaca A.C. (SURCO)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Na Nong Bong Community
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Children’s choir and singing songs about the story of the community and whay they are fighting for. The lyrics said ”The food is ours, we will protect our village, because we love our home”. They said “we want the mine to be shut down and the land restored” “we want to see this village have its old way of life back”
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Noise pollution, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Food insecurity (crop damage)
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases
OtherThere is a cyanide, arsenic, and mercury in people's blood
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in violence and crime
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
The expansion of mine licenses in the province was stopped
Development of AlternativesTo create a new law that includes people participation in order to determine their own future (villages/local people future)
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The expansion of licenses in the province were paralized by the goverment and the mine operation was stopped. However the social, economical and environmental negative impacts of its operations continued in the area. The military have pressured the villagers not to make any move concerning the mine and environmental issues. "The military invoked martial law to force the villagers to stop a planned activity to raise environmental concerns. The military also confiscated a stereo belonging to the villagers"[9].
Sources and Materials

[3] Na Nong Bong Fall 2013 Protest Updates
[click to view]

[4] Mining industry thugs must be stopped
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[1] Atlas mining:project information
[click to view]

[5] Gold mine protesters hurt by armed mob and shady deals
[click to view]

[2] Pillaging of resources shows depth of political rot
[click to view]

[8] Two with Thai army links found guilty of attack on gold mine protest
[click to view]

[9] How Thai junta uses martial law to end conflict by silencing people
[click to view]


Loei villagers claim armed mob attacked them over mine row
[click to view]

Tongakah Harbour mine web
[click to view]

Gold diggers, written by Geographical, 20 July 2015. A major Geographical investigation looks at the devastating environmental and debilitating health effects a Thai gold mine is having on a village in Loei, and at how a group of determined villagers are fighting back
[click to view]

Mining firm seeking to sue schoolgirl, 15
[click to view]

Gold rush crawls to a standstill
[click to view]

there will be no gold mines at all in Thailand after this year.
[click to view]

Media Links

Na Nong Bong: The Power of a Wall (a form of resistance)
[click to view]

The Animated Story of a Gold Mine in Northeast Thailand
[click to view]

[7] Mining in Loei Province
[click to view]

[6] Fields of Mine: Na Nong Bong, Thailand (UPDATED)
[click to view]

Other Documents

source: CIEE project (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-community-rights-mining-resistance#/) Protest from People Who Love Their Hometown (PWLTH) against the gold mining company, Tungkum Ltd, in Na Nong Bong in Northeastern Thailand
[click to view]

Source: The ISAAN Record (http://isaanrecord.com/2014/05/20/gold-mine-protesters-hurt-by-armed-mob-and-shady-deals-3/=) Mr. Yon Khunna, a leader of the anti-mining group in the Na Nong Bong village area, suffers from blows to the face. He was one of many group leaders who says he was beaten and threatened that night.
[click to view]

Meta Information
Contributor SM (ICTA-UAB) and Carros de Combate
Last update31/10/2016