Mixed reaction on bauxite moratorium decision
Last Update: 19/02/2019
KUANTAN, Feb 19 (Bernama) -- The government decision to lift the moratorium on bauxite mining starting April 1, has received mixed reaction from industry players and the people of Kuantan.
The industry players said they welcomed the decision and described it as a huge relief after a tedious three-year waiting period while the public expressed their concern on the side effects of the mining activity.
Pahang Mineral Operators Association vice president Datuk Yap Soon Huat gave an assurance that all its members were willing to comply with the new standard operating procedure (SOP) to be introduced by the Cabinet.
"For me, it is a good decision to end the moratorium. The minister has visited the site (yesterday) and saw the potential and how the industry could contribute to the economic growth in Kuantan," he said when contacted here, today.
Yap added members of the association has agreed to sign a memorandum to self-regulate the mining activity to ensure it did not harm the environment, the reason for the implementation of the moratorium on Jan 15, 2015.
“We are willing to help the government in curbing the illegal mining, which was the real cause of the problems before. After the activity resumes, we will gather evidence on illegal mining, if any and hand it to the enforcement agencies for necessary action," he said.
Yap also viewed the government decision to impose fines of up to RM500,000 and imprisonment up to three years to those who failed to comply with the new SOP, as a 'motivation for them to play by the rules'.
Media today reported that Water, Land and Natural Recources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar as saying that the bauxite mining moratorium which ends on March 31, would not be extended, adding that the bauxite industry received strong demand and was profitable, with Pahang state having received about RM47 million in royalty in 2015.
Meanwhile, the president of the Pahang Iron Ore Entrepreneurs Association, Datuk Seri Tengku Zulkifli Tengku Ahmad said he believed bauxite mining could generate revenue to the state government and the local residents, but it needed to be implemented in a balanced manner.
He said the government had to look at the requirement of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report to ensure it no longer polluted the environment besides a clearer explanation to be given on the new Standard Operating Procedure.
Meanwhile Semambu assemblyman Lee Chean Chung urged the government to consult the people and relevant stakeholders on the SOP before its implementation, stressing it was the right step to restore public confidence on the issue.
He added, this was mainly because bauxite mining had become controversial because the previous practices were poorly regulated and unsustainable.
"Illegal mining was rampant and the EIA was not required while rehabilitation on mining site was non-existent. As a result, the people suffered instead of benefiting from this economic activities.
"The people have not forgotten the experience of a dusty and reddish Kuantan which the people dubbed as planet Mars," he said.