Kuantan Bauxite Ban May Be Extended Yet Again

Kuantan Bauxite Ban May Be Extended Yet Again
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

Representatives of Kuantan’s government indicated this week that the moratorium on bauxite mining could be extended a third time if conditions for lifting the moratorium are still not met.

Conditions that have been laid out for mining to resume in the area include abiding by the new standard operating procedures (SOP) regarding bauxite ore transportation, using approved routes for transporting bauxite ore in trucks properly certified by the government for transportation, and proper procedures being followed at bauxite ore stockpile sites, explained Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

The moratorium, enacted on January 15 of this year, was originally intended to last for only three months. However, the moratorium was extended for another three months due to miners’ failure to meet clean-up milestones. The moratorium is the government’s response to local and international outcry after irresponsible mining practices left the Kuantan area’s land and waterways polluted by bauxite ore.

When asked to expound on what some perceive to be a lack of commitment on the part of miners towards strict and specific regulations on stockpiling, the implementation of environmental assessment studies, and using specified routes, Minister Wan Junaidi explained, “I will present the findings to the Cabinet so that a decision can be made,” The query was made by Hajjah Fuziah Salleh (PKR-Kuantan) in the Dewan Rakyat (Malaysia’s lower house of parliament) during a debate on the National Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2016.

Fuziah also indicated concern over another round of pollution if mining is again allowed, as many of the mines are located adjacent to water catchment areas.

Wan Junaidi testified that there are now twelve stockpiles in the Kuantan area, including at the port. He estimated that the stockpiles totaled 3.7 million metric tons, but that estimates may not be completely accurate as some miners have stored bauxite in buildings to avoid detection by the ministry’s drones.

“The drones can’t go inside building, so we can’t estimate the amount of bauxite. My officers had to go on site to check each of the stockpiles,” he explained.