Malaysia’s Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Jaafar told local media yesterday that there exists a strong likelihood that the continuing ban on bauxite mining in the country will be extended once more prior to its current expiration date of March 31.
Wan Junaidi justified the probable extension by pointing out that red mud from bauxite stockpiles that have yet to be cleared are still draining into the port of Kuantan.
Though the assumption that the ban will be extended is scarcely questioned at this point, the duration of the coming extension is still uncertain.
“We will report to the Cabinet and see what the Cabinet says,” he explained.
Although the ban has been in place since January 15 of last year, reports of locals near mining areas indicate that mining still goes on despite the ban.
Wan Junaidi went on to say that Tengku Mahkota of Pahang Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has mandated that everyone, not just the state and licensed miners, is to fill in holes dug in the course of bauxite mining.
“This requires every relevant parties to cooperate to solve this issue. This is because some private land is beyond the ministry’s access because it belongs to private ownership or a company,” he said.
Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob spoke on the subject yesterday, saying that he was not unsympathetic to the harm done by the ban to legitimate miners.
“If we continue with the moratorium, genuine (legal) miners like the subsidiary (YP Mining Sdn Bhd) of Yayasan Pahang, will be adversely affected. But, if we allow (the moratorium to lapse) I am worried we can lose control like before. Every Tom, Dick and Harry will have his field day where they simply dig out (the bauxite) (and) bring to the port, without considering the effect on the public. Dirty lorries (laden with bauxite) will dirty everything (roads and surrounding areas),” he explained.
He went on to indicate that a final decision on the ultimate length of the ban would be made by June.