Malaysia is set to extend its previously announced ban on bauxite mining activities in Pahang from mid-April by another three months over contamination issues.
Reuters reported Malaysia’s natural resources and environment minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar saying that the latest move is aimed at clearing stockpiles, as well as to eliminate the risk of bauxite, which is contaminating the rivers of the country.
"The cabinet today agreed to the ministry’s suggestion that the bauxite moratorium in Kuantan be extended by three more months."
The ban was initially announced in January 2016 for a period of three months.
Bauxite mining in the country attracted criticism as it was found to have contaminated the water and some rivers in Kuantan.
Due to this, sea waters around Kuantan turned red.
Bauxite mining industry in Malaysia enjoyed growth in the past two years following an increase in demand for the aluminium-making ingredient in China.
However, as there were no proper regulations in place, many people complained of water contamination and damages that were caused to the environment.
Under the ban, existing stockpiles of the ingredient need to be exported before lifting of the moratorium, Jaafar added.
In December 2015, Malaysia is believed to have shipped around 3.5 million tonnes of Bauxite to China.
Issuance of bauxite export permits is expected to restart in a bid to help miners clear existing stockpiles.
It is up to the producers to apply requests for extension again if they fail to clear stockpiles within the stipulated timeframe.