Although the moratorium on bauxite mining in place since early 2016 in Malaysia has been extended indefinitely, bauxite miners in Pahang continue to remain hopeful that operations will begin again in the very near future.
Pahang Iron Ore Operators Association president Tengku Datuk Seri Zulkifly Tengku Ahmad told local media late last week that he and his organization are looking forward to meeting with the incoming Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr. Xavier Jayakumar at his earliest opportunity.
Though Jayakumar indicated on July 3 that the moratorium has been extended indefinitely, Tengku Zulkifly continues to hold out hope for a change of heart in the halls of government.
“We want to invite him for a site visit and see the situation for himself,” expressed Tengku Zulkifly.
According to Tengku Zulkifly, the vast majority of the area’s bauxite ore is still beneath the surface and, if appropriately managed, the ore could represent a significant boon to the area’s economic fortunes.
“We can still restart the industry but we missed a golden opportunity when the bauxite price was high,” explained Pahang Mining Operators Association vice-president Yap Soon Huat. He continued by saying that an estimated 50 to 60 million metric tonnes of bauxite still remains under the surface of Kuantan.
Yap said that, as the People’s Republic of China now imports 3/4ths of its bauxite needs from Africa, Malaysia may be in danger of missing a golden opportunity.
“Perhaps the new government needs time to study the state of bauxite mining in Kuantan and implement procedures that ensure extraction with minimal impact on the environment.
“The minister should engage with stakeholders and operators to get a grasp of the situation.”
However, Bukit Goh Bauxite Issues Committee chairman Datuk Dr. Abd Wahid Abd Manap said that the situation merited a wait-and-see approach due to the recent changes at the federal level.
“We want harmony for operators and all stakeholders while minimising impact on the environment,” he said.
“We shall wait for a decision from the new government.”