3. The core content of the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights
3.2 Action plan for community, land, natural resources and the environment
3.2.1 Overview of the situation
For the mining project, details of improvement of the environmental and social impact assessment system are as follows:
(1) Minerals Act B.E. 2560 (2017) and related subordinate legislation divided mining into three types according to the size of the area, types of minerals, geological characteristics of the mineral resources, mining methods and impacts on the quality of environment and public health that may arise from mining. The scope of the mining project (in accordance with the promotion and conservation of national environmental quality law defined as type 2 or type 3 mines) must include preparing the environmental impact assessment report (EIA or EHIA), dependent upon the context of each case.
(2) Improvements in the environmental and social impact assessment system for mining projects in order to be prudent and concise by requiring public hearings with affected communities, both according to the mineral law and in accordance with the law on promotion and conservation of national environmental quality are as follows:
(2.1) Minerals Act B.E. 2560 (2017) and subordinate legislation stipulates that a public hearing of the community is required and, in the event, that the community does not agree, a public referendum, in the area requesting a concession certificate, shall be conducted according to the characteristics and methods announced by the Minister.
(2.2) The National Environmental Quality Promotion and Conservation Act B.E. 2535 (1992). The project must conduct the EIA report with two times a participatory process, namely, the first time at the initial stage of the project to hear opinions on the draft proposal of the project and the scope of the study and, the second time, during the preparation of the draft report, measures to prevent and correct the environmental impact, as well as the area rehabilitation plan after the expiration of the concession. For the project that requires the EHIA report, four times participation is required: (1) To listen to opinions on the scope of the study; (2) For participation in the impact assessment; (3) For hearing opinions on the draft report; and (4) For the authorized approval agencies to organize the process for hearing opinions and to clarify in detail.
(3) In addition, the Mineral Act B.E. 2560 (2017) and the relevant subordinate legislation require the preparation of basic information on the environment and public health and creating a barrier area in the case that the mine may result in causing highly adverse impacts to the quality of environment and public health.
(4) At present, every step of the environmental and social impact assessment of the mining project considers the importance of three types of impacts from large-scale projects: (1) The impact of environmental pollution on health; (2) Forcing communities to relocate without compensation or insufficient plans; and (3) Lack of public consultation or inadequate studies with communities that are affected by the development of large-scale projects. Therefore, the Department of Primary Industries and Mines (DPIM) has emphasized the accuracy and transparency of information in every step from preparation of the area for the request for permissions, details of areas and communities, geological report, mining project plans and area rehabilitation, the EIA report, details and the opinions of the community, both according to the requirements of the mineral law and the law on the promotion and conservation of national environmental quality. As well as these issues, details of the consideration of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report from the Specialist Committee are to be stipulated as additional conditions for approval.
The government has encouraged people around the project area to participate in public consultations in several steps as follows:
- The procedure for requesting a mining concession certificate: Section 56, paragraph 2 of the Mineral Act B.E. 2560 (2017), which stipulates that after the request for a concession certificate is announced for a period of not less than 30 days, the local mineral industry official would arrange for public hearings in accordance with the criteria set by the Minister. At present, the said regulations have been established, according to the notification of the Ministry of Industry, subject: Regulations and method to listen to community comments in the area requested for a concession certificate B.E. 2561 (2018), which was announced in the Royal Gazette on 15 May 2018. The principle of the said announcement stipulates that the local mineral industry official with the village headman should prepare to hear the opinions of the villagers within a radius rim of the concession certificate requested as stipulated in each category (categories 1, 2 and 3), subject to public debate before making a report to the local government administration for an opinion and presenting to the authorized official for further consideration on the issuance of a concession certificate. In this process, relevant citizens can discuss and express opinions, concerns and suggestions.
- The process of developing the environmental impact assessment report: In the preparation for the analysis report on environmental impact, the Office of the Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning stipulated that a public hearing of community during the beginning of the project must be arranged by informing the relevant agencies, notifying the public, organizing the first opinion survey and summarizing opinions. After that, they should arrange another public hearing during the preparation for a draft report and measures for prevention and correction of environmental impact by informing the relevant agencies, notifying the public, organizing the second public hearing and summarizing opinions. The results of the hearing will be put in the EIA report for further consideration by the Specialist Committee.
- During the mining process: The Department of Primary Industries and Mines (DPIM) would establish a civilian network to monitor the mining environment quality. Their responsibility is to report the environmental impact of dust, loud noise, vibration, etc. to the DPIM. If the network reports that it was affected from the mining operation, an investigation team will be sent to investigate. Should the examination results show that the mine causes real impacts, the mine operator will be ordered to improve and address the problems. The results of the problem solving will be sent to the network for information. Currently, there are 490 civilian networks covering most areas of mining and the Department of Primary Industries and Mines (DPIM) continues to strengthen the network by providing training to educate the network on environmental quality surveillance as well as constantly organizing activities to stimulate network performance.
3.2.3 Action Plan (2019–2022)
Pillar 1: State duties in protecting (Protect)
|Responsible agencies||Time-frame (2019–2022)||Indicators (wide frame)||Compliance with National Strategy/ SDGs/UNGPs|
|1.||Developing and improving laws, regulations, policies and related measures||Review mining laws, including issuing permits and defining mining areas||– Ministry of Industry||2019–2022||– Reviewed the mining law, licensing and mining areas||– National Strategy for Eco-Friendly Development and Growth
– SDG 13, 14 and 15
– UNGPs Articles 1, 3, 5 and 7
|2.||Public participation||Organize discussions and public hearing to receive people’s opinions, including from related ethnic groups in the area. The public and communities should get access to complete information and participate in decision- making processes easily, as well as giving comments on the evaluation of the effect on the environment, land expropriation considerations, land management and forest conservation of the government, etc. before undertaking any project, including large-scale projects relating to energy management, power plants, petroleum, and drilling for the exploration of natural resources, in order to encourage people and communities to have a role in determining project operation areas, considering the way of life and culture.||– Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council
– Ministry of Agriculture
– Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
– Ministry of Energy
– Ministry of Interior
– Ministry of Industry
|2019–2022||– Number of activities and projects organized to listen to the opinions of the people relating to operations that affect the public||– National Strategy for Eco-Friendly Development and Growth
– SDG 7, 11, 13, 14 and 15
– UNGPs Articles 1, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8
|3.||Environmental and Health Impact Assessment (EIA/ EHIA)||Strengthen the current impact assessment process to be stronger, especially in large-scale development projects such as infrastructure and mining and energy projects||– Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
– Ministry of Energy
– Ministry of Industry
– Ministry of Transport
|2019–2022||– Strictly implementing the EIA/EHIA process especially on large projects||– National Strategy for Eco-Friendly Development and Growth
– National Strategy for Public Sector Rebalancing and Development
– SDG 11, 13, 14 and 15
– UNGPs Articles 1, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8