KUALA LUMPUR: The three-month moratorium period for bauxite mining activities, which was supposed to end next month, might be extended, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
Wan Junaidi, when met at the parliament lobby earlier, said the decision to extend the deadline would depend on the compliance of the new regulations and procedures among the mining operators and government agencies.
"Among the things I am looking at are designated routes and lorries to transport bauxite as well as how the Kuantan port is functioning. The state government need to also provide a centralised bauxite stockpile centre or convince me that another alternative is available (as stockpile centre).
"We may request to the government to extend the moratorium depending on the compliance. We are also looking at washing bays and storage at the mining sites. I can't say if I am satisfied or not," he told reporters.
He earlier told the Dewan Rakyat that the ministry would discuss with the Pahang state government to revoke the existing bauxite mining licenses to allow the miners to reapply and adhere to the more stringent new regulations and procedures.
"This is because, the amended Environmental Quality Order does not have retropective effect on existing mining site operators whose licenses are ending within two years.
Meanwhile, the new regulations and procedures can be imposed on them after the moratorium period ends," he said in winding up debate on motion of thanks to the Royal address.
"The amended Environmental Quality Order, which was gazetted on August 28 last year, however covers sites of any size. This issue is also a concern to me as the amended law does not have retrospective effect and (thus will only apply on new licenses)," he said, adding that the state government had agreed that the license is only for two years.
It was reported that bauxite-mining activities in Kuantan was suspended for three months starting Jan 15, to enable mining companies to clear their existing stockpile, as well as to give them time to implement required measures and systems to improve their operations.
Wan Junaidi said the ministry was also looking into enacting several laws on water resources management and biodiversity.
"The National Water Resources Policy was reactivated to ensure water security. I have suggested that a specific law be enacted to allow the federal government to monitor and regulate management of water resources.
"We are looking at a possible mechanism without having to take over the states' power over water resources like catchments and dams. A study found that only 18 per cent of rain water in Malaysia is utilised, while the remaining goes back to the sea," he said.