In a move long anticipated and much awaited by Malaysia’s bauxite miners, the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry yesterday released a draft of the standard operating procedures (SOP) it expects to put into place to govern the practice of extracting and exporting the ore.
Perhaps the biggest news to come from the draft SOP is the monthly cap on bauxite exports of 600 thousand metric tons. According to commentary in the report, the limit is a product of concerns over general cleanliness and the need for environmental responsibility in the practice of bauxite mining.
In addition to a cap on monthly production, the draft SOP would compel miners to operate in a technically-competent manner and have sufficient financial backing to provide for proper equipment.
“Technical competency means there must be a permanent mining engineer and safety, occupational health and environment officer,” the SOP specifies.
“Financially, they must be able to prepare the capital and equipment suitable for the proposed mining method, as well as public liability insurance of up to RM1 million,” it went on.
The SOP went on to specify requirements for several other aspects of bauxite mining, including mandating an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for all stockpiles, both currently in existence and those planned for the future.
Upon extraction, bauxite ore from mines over 5 km (3.1 miles) from Kuantan Port will be stored in a central location prior to transport to the port. Other than for transport purposes, the state does not plan to allow stockpiles of bauxite ore within the port area.
“The ministry hopes the proposed improvements will increase efficiency in managing mining and the exportation of bauxite,” explained the ministry in a statement.
“With the implementation of these improvements, it is also hoped that it will change the negative perception of the public, and thus, boost the local economy in mineral resources.”