Bauxite mining Ban is Extended for Another Six Months until next June
Unregulated mining in Pahang dealt a massive blow to the local environment in 2015. Photo Credit: Flickr
June 30, 2018. That’s the new deadline until which the current moratorium on all bauxite mining in Pahang will remain in place.
The federal government has decided to extend the ban, which first came into effect in January 2016 and was due to expire on December 31 this year. The decision has been made in order to allow for existing stockpiles to be cleared and for mining operators to set their houses in order. The extension of the ban has been necessary because the local mining industry and the clean-up of existing stockpiles have remained beset by irregularities, according to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
That of course comes as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. Locals have long been griping that some mining operators have been clandestinely breaking the moratorium. The operators allegedly did so with the full knowledge of some corrupt officials, several of whom were arrested last August.
Government authorities have since pledged to hold miners who break the moratorium to account. They have also passed a new set of rules for bauxite mining operators so as to ensure that existing stockpiles of the iron ore will be conducted in line with environmental considerations.
“This includes thorough checks on every application of approved permit (AP) for bauxite including the location and amount of stockpile which will be exported based on the approval by the state government and technical analysis by the JMG, as well as amendments to the Mineral Development (Licensing) Regulations 2016 for the process of clearing the bauxite for export,” the news agency Bernama reported, citing a government document.
“The operators must sign an agreement before the approved permit (AP) application for them to retrieve the stockpiles are approved by the NRE (Natural Resources and Environment Ministry),” Azam Baki, MACC deputy chief commissioner, has been quoted as saying. “Among others, it includes the pledge that they will not be involved in bribery and abuse of power.”
The extension of the ban is a welcome development, of course. Here is hoping that both local miners and local officials will finally clean up their act so that we will have no more cause to fear a repeat of the environmental calamity that befell the Kuantan area in 2015 as a result of unregulated mining activities.