Though the prohibition against it will run for over a month at minimum, Pahang locals fear that the appearance of bauxite mining equipment mean the practice has resumed in their area.
The People’s Movement to Stop Bauxite Pollution (Geram) chairman Ali Akbar Othman said residents in Beserah’s Kampung Jeram noticed the presence of two excavators on Saturday, leading to questions about the equipment being directed at local contractors. Ali Akbar said that the contractors advised him that they had received a letter of approval for moving a bauxite stockpile at the mine.
“However, a check at the site revealed several new digging sites. We also asked the contractor to show us the letter and permit which he claimed he had obtained but he said the documents are with the landowner,” Ali Akbar told local media.
“As such we want them to stop work and gave them until tomorrow to submit the documents to verify claims that approval from the authorities had been obtained.”
Beserah assemblyman Andansura Rabu, who was also present when activists spoke with the contractor, called upon relevant government agencies to update the mine’s status. He went on to say that, in the event the mine was being operated in contravention with the law, the government should take action to prevent “untoward incidents” on the land.
“We are protesting because even the roads which have been damaged by the bauxite trucks are still not repaired. The state government must clarify the matter immediately,” he said.
Malaysia’s ban on bauxite mining was instituted in early January of last year as a response to irresponsible mining practices in the Pahang area that led to pollution of the rivers, streams, and bays. The ban has been extended several times since then, the latest extension having the ban ending on March 31.