Snapshot: Environmental regulations for mining activities in Thailand

Environment

Main applicable environmental laws

What are the main environmental laws applicable to the mining industry? What are the main regulatory bodies that administer these laws?

In addition to the Minerals Act, BE 2560 (2017) (the Minerals Act), which contains numerous provisions on the protection of the environment and communities, there are numerous laws relating to the management of environmental issues, each with specific requirements and competent authorities.

The National Law for the Protection and Promotion of the Environment, BE 2535 (1992), as revised (the Law on the Environment), is the main law for the management of environmental matters, including water pollution , air and noise, hazardous waste and the conservation of natural resources. In addition, the Environment Law requires the private and public sectors to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for prescribed operations or activities and provides for the establishment of an environmental fund. It is administered by:

  • the Bureau of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning;
  • Pollution Control Department; and
  • the Department for the Promotion of Environmental Quality.

Environmental review and authorization process

What is the environmental review and permitting process for a mining project? How long does it normally take to obtain the necessary permits?

The Constitution provides that any project or activity likely to have a serious impact on the environment can only be carried out if the impact on the quality of the environment and the health of people in the surrounding community has been studied and assessed beforehand. . Community law is also protected here.

Accordingly, the Environment Act provides that projects or activities which may have an impact on the environment may be required to undertake either an EIA report or an environmental impact assessment report. environment and health (EHIA) depending on the type and size of the project. The EIA and EHIA review period will take approximately 75 business days.

Mining appraisals

All mining projects require an EIA report to be submitted with the mining lease application. Some mining activities require the submission of an EHIA report, for example, seabed mines and underground mines with collapsing structures without proper support and no replacement form inserted to prevent collapse (all sizes).

The Minerals Act includes many provisions relating to environmental review, by existing and new government agencies.

Sustainability

Do government agencies or other institutions in your jurisdiction provide incentives or issue environmental and social governance (ESG) guidelines for green projects?

Financial sector regulators have set up a task force on sustainable finance and financial institutions have started to integrate ESG into their strategies. The Bank of Thailand and the Thai Bankers Association jointly signed the Memorandum of Understanding to move to responsible leadership. Draft National Economic and Social Development Guidelines No. 13 (2023-2027) to promote policies aimed at creating an environmentally friendly society and economy, will be announced later in 2022.

In addition, the Ministry of Industry (MOI) has created a definition of “green industry”, in which different levels of green industry are eligible to receive benefits from the MOI.

The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand also recognizes the importance of green industry and offers benefits to companies that can achieve it.

Closure and remediation process

What is the process for closing and rehabilitating a mining project? What performance bonds, guarantees and other financial assurances are required?

Under the Minerals Act, mining leaseholders are responsible for the restoration of mining areas in accordance with plans for restoration, development, use and monitoring of the impact on the environment and human health during mining and after mine closure, as approved by the Minerals Committee and establishment of a guarantee for restoration and insurance (in the case of category 2 and 3 mines).

Restrictions on construction of tailings or waste dams

What are the restrictions for constructing tailings or waste dams?

Essentially, Section 68(6) of the Minerals Act provides that the dumping of tailings or permitting others to extract tailings from the mining area requires the prior approval of the local mineral industry official. with other rules and conditions provided by the Ministry of Primary Industries and Mines. notification.

For waste dams, there are no specific regulations on the operation and management of waste dams. However, additional details of the operation, management, inspection and alarm systems regarding the management of waste arising from mining, including tailings and waste dams, should be included in the report. assessment of the environmental impact carried out by the mining operator. .

The Engineers Act, BE 2542 (1999) governs the licensing of persons to operate and manage projects.

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