KUALA LUMPUR: All bauxite-mining activities in Kuantan will be suspended for three months starting Jan 15.
This is to enable the bauxite-mining companies to clear their existing stockpile, as well as to give them time to implement required measures and systems to better manage their operations.
Environment and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the government had ceased approving all Approved Permits (APs) for the activities last week.
There are currently 22 AP holders for bauxite mining.
The APs will only be issued to mining companies who abide by the new terms and conditions imposed by the government.
Among the measures include requiring companies to install better drainage and filtration systems.
Wan Junaidi, speaking at a press conference today, said the first month of the three-month moratorium will focus on clearing the Kuantan port of existing bauxite stockpile.
“This is to ensure that there will be no further spillovers in the future.
“In the two subsequent months, we expect the 11 other stockpile sites to be cleared,” he said.
He said once these measures are in place, APs will only be issued to registered companies, no longer to individuals.
He said the government is also looking for permanent solutions for better bauxite-mining, including setting up an integrated stockpile centre, with two areas including Pengorak, near Balok, already identified.
The minister said various enforcement agencies will also come down hard on illegal miners during the moratorium period.
However, he did not furnish details on the extent of the illegal activities.
Meanwhile, Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob who was also present said a more stringent enforcement mechanism is needed to curb illegal mining.
"They include engaging the National Security Council, like what the government had done for the illegal land-clearing at Cameron Highlands.
“There is also a need to add more staff at the state Geoscience and Minerals Department for better enforcement,” he said.
Adnan said the state government collected a total of RM46.7 million in last year in bauxite mining royalties.
He said the state government had also yet to receive any demands for compensation over problems caused by bauxite mining.
“I urge the Kuantan people to come and see me if they face problems due to the mining," he said, thanking the media and members of the public for their feedback and comments on the issue.