Lithium and tungsten explorer Pan Asia Metals (ASX: PAM) has welcomed the approval this week of Thailand’s new minerals policy aimed at encouraging a boost in exploration and downstream processing.
The company says it is uniquely placed to take advantage of this new government initiative as it is the only battery and critical minerals explorer in Thailand with “a long and successful” track record.
Pan Asia has lithium exploration projects northeast of Phuket along with a tungsten target located 600km south of Bangkok.
Managing director Paul Lock says the Thai government has essentially puts its minerals supply chain security front and centre of its industrial growth initiatives.
Thai government recognises need to help miners
He adds that the government recognises that minerals exploration, mining and processing are high-risk activities, requiring time, skills, substantial investment and a stable policy environment.
“There is a need to encourage these activities through investment promotion and incentives,” Mr Lock noted.
The policy paper approved by the Thai cabinet noted that research, development and value creation in Thailand is low because research and development requires large budgets and high risks.
“Most of domestic mining is low-value minerals such as gypsum while high-value minerals such as base metals, precious metals and rare earths depend mainly on the import of raw materials from abroad,” the policy document continued.
Realisation that Thai industry needs local sources of critical metals
The government acknowledged that its manufacturing sectors depend on these high-value minerals.
Sectors, including electric vehicle industry, are at risk in terms of price and quantity “because there is not enough raw material production to support these industries”, the Thai report says.
Thailand comes in at No. 30 in rankings of advanced industrial economies by the Massachusetts-based Observatory of Economic Complexity and is the fourth largest auto manufacturer in Asia.
Pan Asia’s operations include the Reung Kiet lithium project 70km northeast of Phuket. Pan Asia holds a 100% interest in three contiguous Special Prospecting Licenses and one Exclusive Prospecting License Application covering about 40 sq km.
The Kata Thong lithium project is a geothermal lithium and hard rock lithium-tin project located about 100km northeast of Phuket.