Subsurface spaces are the natural spaces below the earth's surfaces that are changed by economic development activities. The economic activities include those that occur near the soil surface like that of using fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides to make the soil more productive and also those processes that delve deeper into the earth to try mine those resources like oil, natural gas, coal and other mineral deposits.  

In south Asia, the oil reserves are estimated at 22 billion barrels, coal at 46 billion tones and natural gas at 227 trillion feet according to the ASEAN secretariat of 2004. The reserves play important economic economic development strategies for such countries in Southern Asia as mining translates to multi-billion dollar returns. Malaysia and Indonesia alone earned about $6 billion in 2006 alone. Other important minerals extracted from the region though in small quantities include; copper, gold, lead, Zinc, iron ore, gemstones, bauxite, nickel and tin and is not evenly balanced as some countries have greater reserves than others.

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Thus the minerals when discovered have a greater importance to the economy of the countries as they earn modest returns not only to the areas they are discovered in but the nation at large. When the minerals are discovered, they are mined by all means and this affects the community in two ways irrespective of their interests. When mines are built, the community is assisted as they are provided with an alternative work from farming as well as develop the local economy. This is not always the case as the community members may have fears of losing their land, pollution and livelihood changes that may make them to oppose mining activities.

Perhaps the biggest concern for the locals has been that proceeds from mining are often channeled to the state and the international mining companies. They are left on decision making about how mining should be done or how the proceeds should be apportioned. They are then left to bear the social and environmental brunt that comes up with mining. This has led to frustrations among the locals that they feel cheated, both by their governments and the mining companies.

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