EARTH Thailand

Gunshots heard as residents fear smuggling at Loei gold mine

The Nation 08 December 2017 | Pratch Rujivanarom

Local residents have expressed suspicions that unidentified people tried to transport gold ore from a suspended gold mine in Loei province on Thursday night.

Wiron Rujichaiwat, a resident of Ban Na Nhong Bong village, reported the presence of a truck and two lorries driving in the direction of Thung Kham gold mine in Loei’s Wang Saphung district.

However, when the drivers saw Wiron, the vehicles turned around and drove away.

Wiron said he then heard about 20 gunshots from direction the vehicles had gone.

After the incident, residents informed relevant agencies in the province about the incident, expressing fear that armed men would attack their community in an effort to transport gold ore out of the mine in an incident similar to that which occurred on May 15, 2014.

Ranong Khongsan, another local resident, said on Friday morning nothing had yet happened, but people were still fearful about possible violence and another attempt to transport gold ore out of the mine.

Residents in six communities in the vicinity of the gold mine have been engaged in a prolonged conflict with Thung Kham based on the mine’s environmental impacts.

They have campaigned to stop operations at the mine and for the restoration of the environment.