Chiang Rai prepares to retake defunct mine

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Chiang Rai – Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and relevant agencies have banded together to seize a defunct scheelite mine in Chiang Rai province.

Director of Protected Area Regional Office 15, Kamolchai Kotcha, army officers and administrative officials have jointly inspected four plots of land covering 151.68 hectares in Wiang Pa Pao district where the mine is located.

The operation also discovered that another 4.48 hectares of land had been used to keep vehicles and machinery. The task force seized the land plots, 63 vehicles and equipment and 18 on-site buildings and has prepared a report detailing the list of impounded items.

In 1973, more than 300 people were killed by a landslide at the site while searching for the ore. The Thai-Swedish Mining Company Limited, which later won the concession, undertook the mining and the evacuation of the remaining villagers. The concession expired in 2008.

Authorities are requesting Wiang Pa Pao Police Station to press charges against the company for occupying forest areas without permission, disobeying legal orders and causing environmental damage. Sansalee Subdistrict Administrative Organization plans to turn the mine into a historical site.