Mining Ban may be extended Further
Bauxite mining has left open red sores on the landscape of Pahang. Photo Credit: Star2.com
Another three months. That’s how long Malaysia’s government may extend the moratorium on bauxite mining in Pahang. A good thing, too, all things considered.
The ban has been in place, through repeated extensions, since January 15 last year and is due to expire at the end of this month. The cause for the proposed extension: runoff from inactive mines and stockpiles of bauxite has continued polluting coastal waters near Kuantan port.
In heavy rain, the aluminum ore gets washed away and leaches into sea water, says Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar. The minister said that as a result the country’s federal government is considering extending the deadline for another three months. “We will report to the Cabinet and see what the Cabinet says,” he told the Bernama news agency.
According to Wan Junaidi, Pahang’s sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has called on all locals, not just government officials and local miners, to cover up the open-pit holes dug up for 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,” Wan Junaidi explained.
A worthy call, that. The holes not only remain festering sores on the landscape of Pahang. They continue to pose severe environmental hazards, and they also pose health hazards, especially to local children. Recently several children drowned in holes in the ground that had been left behind by mines and filled up with water, becoming pools of sorts. Meanwhile, recent tests have found that toxic runoff from the bauxite mines have contaminated local water sources and entered the food chain by tainting fish.
Wan Junaidi is right to have called for an extension to the moratorium on mining. Locals in Pahang do need extra sources of income, but that income should not come at the expense of their health and the health of their environment.