Malaysia’s government announced yesterday that the ban on bauxite ore mining in Pahang will be extended yet again, this time for another two months.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar explained that the moratorium, slated to end in two weeks, was extended to allow for the clearance of existing stockpiles of bauxite.
“The Cabinet yesterday agreed with our proposal to extend the moratorium period for the second time for another two months, which is until Sept 15,” Wan Junaidi explained to local press. “We want all the bauxite that has been extracted to be exported from the country so that relevant parties can clean the stockpiling areas.”
The minister went on to say that the moratorium would continue to be extended so long as stockpiles of bauxite remain in Kuantan.
“The industry players must cooperate by ensuring that all stockpiles outside the Kuantan Port are exported before the moratorium comes to an end,” he said. “It is estimated that there are about 5.4 million tonnes of bauxite stockpile outside of the (Kuantan) port, including 1.3 million tonnes in Gebeng, 2.3 million tonnes in the mining area, and 1.8 million tonnes in Felda.
“In a bid to facilitate the process of transferring out the bauxite mineral, the ministry has issued 25 Approval Permits (AP) with a limit of (exporting) 2.46 million tonnes. However, as of June 1 (from Apr 15), only 187,438 tonnes had been exported, when in fact the bauxite export capacity at Kuantan Port and Kemamam are 1.5 million tonnes a month and 700,000 tonnes a month, respectively,” he said.
The bauxite ban was originally put into place on January 15 to clean up environmental damage caused by irresponsible mining practices, and to give the government a chance to revise the bauxite mining regulation regime. The original term of the ban was to be three months, but the government extended the ban shortly before it was set to expire in April.