KUCHING: The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is confident that illegal mining at the main bauxite mine in Pahang – if such an activity even takes place – is not rampant, as a moratorium over the activity was imposed early this year.
Its minister, Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, said that there are indications that illegal mining may still be taking place, based on aerial surveillance made during his visit to the mine recently.
However, the evidence is not conclusive.
“Recently, the ministry conducted an aerial surveillance over the mining areas and noticed several heaps of bauxite, as if meant for stockpiles.
“However, I did not find any movement of vehicles or excavating machines.
“This has led the ministry to (reach) two conclusions. It indicates (either) that illegal mining is ongoing, or that the heaps of bauxite were left behind by legal miners before the moratorium was imposed,” he told reporters today.
Wan Junaidi, who is also Santubong member of Parliament, said it should be noted that the ministry is not against any form of mining activity, if it is conducted according to rules and regulations.
“Mining is a source of wealth, but that said, it must be harvested according to international requirements to ensure sustainability of resources.
“The mining must be conducted without (causing) detrimental effects to the environment,” he said.
It was reported yesterday that the ministry has extended a moratorium on mining activity at the Felda Bukit Goh area in Pahang until March 31 next year.
It is the fourth extension enforced since the moratorium was imposed early this year.