The Malaysian government will begin to issue mining licenses to bauxite miners within the next three months according to a statement made by a federal minister today.
Malaysia’s water, land and natural resources minister Xavier Jayakumar revealed to reporters at parliament earlier today that bauxite mining licenses would begin to be issued in December or January, followed by a six-month monitoring process.
Xavier went on to say that the Pahang government is currently processing applications from a trio of local companies.
“We want to make sure the SOP is adhered to and if there are any loopholes, we strengthen those areas,” explained Xavier. He continued by saying that an increase in the export limit would hinge upon the capacity of the port at Kuantan.
Formerly one of the world’s most prolific producers of bauxite, miners in Malaysia sent upwards of 3.5 million metric tons of bauxite ore per annum to refiners in the People’s Republic of China prior to the enactment of a moratorium on mining and export of the ore in 2015.
The ban, which was implemented in the early days of 2015, was done in response to complaints by residents regarding pollution by irresponsible bauxite ore mining operations. Though initially intended to last for only a few months, the government extended it several times, citing miners’ failure to clear stockpiles at the port of Kuantan.
The Malaysian government finally allowed the ban to expire earlier this year, but mining is still de facto banned, as permitting has not yet begun. The state and federal governments say the delay is due to a redrafting of the standard operating procedures (SOPs), which it says it has been conducting over the past several months in conjunction with a series of bauxite stakeholders.