In an effort at easing the transition to bauxite production, Malaysia’s Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry announced on Saturday that it will conduct hearings to discuss the new set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) by which bauxite miners will be expected to abide upon resumption of production at the end of next month.
Per the ministry, the hearings will provide stakeholders an opportunity to add input to the SOPs before they are implemented as well.
“To ensure the involvement of all parties, this engagement that will be held before March 31 will also take into account the interests of the people as well as environmental NGOs,” said the ministry in a statement.
The SOPs, which cover the entirety of the process from mine planning to export, will also be opened up to public examination and comment at a date to be determined.
“The ministry is committed to ensure all complaints from the people, especially those who are directly affected by bauxite mining activities, are heard in line with the ministry’s vision as a leader in sustainable management of water, land and natural resources for the country’s prosperity,” the statement continued.
Chairman of Stop Bauxite Pollution People’s Movement (Geram) Ali Akbar Othman said in comments to local media that, though the opportunity for public comment is encouraging, he hoped that the ministry would coordinate such hearings will properly account for all those wishing to provide input.
“Similar to the public hearing held by the government’s executive review committee on the Lynas plant, I hope participants who wish to attend will be allowed to register earlier and the venue will offer extra room so that more people can attend.”
“I am sure many will want to be at the public engagement as they want to hear for themselves on the new SOP and how mining activities will be conducted April onwards,” he continued. “People have seen it in the past and now they will be able to make comparison.”