Thailand was formerly a major tin producer, but now produces mainly gold, silver, iron, zinc, limestone, gypsum and basalt. Thailand is currently a net importer of mineral commodities.
See the United States Geological Survey Minerals Yearbook (Thailand) for mining details from recent years in English. See also the website of the Mining Industry Council of Thailand at www.miningthai.org and the website of the Department of Primary Industries and Mines, Ministry of Industry (DPIM) at www.dpim.go.th for current information and statistics. An investment guide for mining business in Thailand dated 2017 is posted in the Thai language on the DPIM website.
In Thailand, more than 40 minerals are produced. Based on the information provided on the DPIM website, the most-produced target minerals in 2017 were industrial minerals and industrial rocks, silver ore and gold ore. During the past year, mining production for almost all minerals reduced with a few exceptions.
The government announced a policy in May 2016 to close existing gold mines by the end of 2016, including those operated by Akara, and not to issue new or renew mining licences for gold. To our knowledge, there has been no legislation reflecting an increased interest in minerals used in battery technology or renewable energy in Thailand.
The mining industry is regulated by the Ministry of Industry (MOI), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) and the DPIM at the central level, and by the local mineral industry officials (LMIOs) at the provincial level. However, a number of government agencies have regulatory powers over various elements of mining projects.
The principal environmental law is the National Environment Protection and Promotion Act (1992) (the Environmental Act) and is administered by the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) at the MNRE. See questions 35 and 36.
The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and Minister of Industry are both charged with administration of the new Minerals Act (2017), and will issue ministerial regulations (MRs), notifications and other orders. A National Mineral Administrative Policy Board (NMAP or the Board) is to be established. The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) will function as secretarial office for the Board.
The Board is charged with preparing a mineral administrative master plan, which will include resource surveys, restrictions on certain minerals and areas, and guidelines for mineral administration that results in appropriate benefits to the economic, social, environmental and health balance. A master plan is to be prepared every five years, and be submitted to the cabinet for approval.
A Mineral Committee and Provincial Mineral Committees are to be established. The Mineral Committee is charged with advising ministers on bidding, issuance of ministerial regulations and notifications, approval of licences, renewals, transfers, revocation of conditions of mining in categories 2 and 3, considering complaints and providing assessments of the impact on people’s health and the environment. Provincial Mineral Committees have similar powers in respect of mining in category 1.
Export and Investments
Thailand is one of the leading producers of tin, gypsum, feldspar and cement in the world. Other mineral resources of the country include coal, natural gas and petroleum. The country also has abundant reserves of zinc, iron, gold and copper.
In 2010, the country’s total value of exports amounted to $188.8 billion, which was an increase of 25% from the export value in 2009. This increase in value was mainly contributed by export of refined fuels and iron and steel products.
International iron and steel companies are likely to continue to invest in hot-rolling steel mills in the country thanks to a skilled workforce and good logistics facilities. Quebec Liberals has granted a $58-million loan to Mineral Fiber, which own the Jeffrey Mine, in an attempt to restore the dying asbestos industry. In addition, Baljit Chadha, co-owner of the mine has invested $11-million and Ulan Marketing has invested $14-million in the project. However, the government has recently banned asbestos production citing the harmful impact it has on human health.
High inflation and political instability in the country could lead to shortages of steel products and delay or decrease in government investment. However, experts feel that with the increase in foreign investments and market demand for the country’s mineral commodities, the country’s mineral sector will likely see many positive changes in the near future.