Malaysia to ban bauxite mining activities in Pahang for three months

5 January 2016 (Last Updated January 5th, 2016 18:30)

Malaysia is set to impose a ban on all bauxite mining activities in Pahang for a period of three months due to environmental concerns.

Bauxite

Malaysia is set to impose a ban on all bauxite mining activities in Pahang for a period of three months due to environmental concerns.

As part of the ban, which will come into effect from 15 January, all stockpiles polluting sea would be cleared.

Bauxite mining industry in the country enjoyed strong growth in the past two years due to rise in demand for the commodity in China.

But due to lack of proper regulations, many people complained of water contamination and environmental damages.

Reuters quoted Malaysia natural resources and environment minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar saying: "Everything will come to a complete stop on Jan 15."

All other mining activities apart from clearing of stockpiles and installation of cleaning facilities will also finish with the implementation of the ban.

In December, bauxite mining in the country attracted criticism as it was found to have contaminated the water and some rivers in Kuantan.

Jaafar said the country will also freeze export permits of new bauxite for three months.

"The impacts of bauxite mining should be viewed holistically."

Environmental charity WWF-Malaysia urged the government to immediately halt all bauxite mining activities in the country, claiming that long-term environmental and health costs could outweigh the short-term economic benefit from bauxite mining.

WWF-Malaysia executive director/CEO Dato' Dr Dionysius Sharma said in a statement: "Mining and transportation of bauxite should not be viewed as two separate issues, the impacts of bauxite mining should be viewed holistically.

"Long-term costs to human health and the ecosystem from every phase of bauxite mining including transportation, needs to be factored in evaluating if bauxite mining can be allowed to go ahead."

Malaysia is estimated to have exported more than 20 million tonnes of bauxite to China in the first 11 months of 2015 and shipped 162,000t in 2013.


Image: Bauxite mining in Malaysia attracted criticism as it contaminated the water and rivers. Photo: courtesy of Chris 73.