(File pic) The public hearing and engagement with all stakeholders in the bauxite mining industry will help the public to have better knowledge and understanding of the mining activities here. (NSTP/ ZULKEPLI OSMAN)

KUANTAN: The public hearing and engagement with all stakeholders in the bauxite mining industry will help the public to have better knowledge and understanding of the mining activities here.

Stop Bauxite Pollution People’s Movement (Geram) chairman Ali Akbar Othman said people now have an opportunity to understand the new standard operating procedure (SOP) better and voice their concerns.

He said while Geram, an environmental non-governmental-organisation, welcomed the announcement on the public hearing, it hoped that the event would be well coordinated.

“Similar to the public hearing held by the government’s executive review committee on the Lynas plant, I hope participants who wish to attend will be allowed to register earlier and the venue will offer extra room so that more people can attend.

“I am sure many will want to be at the public engagement as they want to hear for themselves on the new SOP and how mining activities will be conducted April onwards. People have seen it in the past and now they will be able to make comparison,” he said when contacted.

Ali described the public hearing as something that has been long awaited by the people here and he hoped that the session will clear the air and provide answers related to bauxite mining activities.

Today, the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry announced that it will hold a public hearing and engagement with all stakeholders in bauxite mining to further enhance the existing SOP. The engagement process would be held before March 31.

Meanwhile, Felda Bukit Goh Village Community Management Council (MPKK) chief Jefri Salim said the public hearing must be done to improve the public’s knowledge on bauxite mining activities.

“Everyone wants to know the SOP and it is a good move to hold such engagements with all the related parties. However, we hope people will attend and listen to the explanations, and not only come with the intention to oppose it,” he said.

On Monday, Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar announced that the mining and export of bauxite here which ends on March 31 will not be extended, and mining can resume in April with a new SOP as well as tighter enforcement .

Since then various quarters, including environmentalists, consumer rights groups and elected representatives have critised the move saying many were still in the dark over the new SOP and measures that would be implemented by the ministry.