November 24, 2020

Govt to test new bauxite mining SOP for six months to check effectiveness, says Xavier

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KUALA LUMPUR: The government will reopen bauxite mining activities if its new standard operating procedures (SOP) are proven effective, says Dr Xavier Jayakumar.

The Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister said the SOP, which is currently being tested in Pahang, covers all chains of activities including pre-mining, mining and post-mining of bauxite to ensure that the activities can be implemented in a sustainable manner and give added value to the economy.

“To ensure the effectiveness of the new SOP, the Pahang state government has agreed that only a few operators are allowed in the Gebeng, Kuantan area after it received the set approvals.

“The ministry has been informed by the Pahang state government that proposed a period of six months to check the effectiveness of the new SOP before mining activities can be re-opened in Pahang and all over the country,” he told Che Alias Hamid (PAS-Kemaman) during Question Time.

Che Alias had asked the ministry whether there are any time limits to test the effectiveness of its SOP for mining and exporting bauxite.

Dr Xavier said that the SOP has considered the feedback from all stakeholders including locals, industry players, non-governmental organisations, and residents’ associations, among others.

“The SOP will impose stringent regulations in terms of application, transport, centred stockpile, and export,” he said.

He added that the implementation of the new SOP also makes it compulsory for operators to obtain an approved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report.

He warned that the government will terminate the operating permit of any bauxite operators if they failed to follow the new SOP.

“That is why we have that six-month period to see if the SOP can be implemented. We will also study the need for any changes after the six months and take action against companies in that period,” he said.

When met at the Parliament lobby, Dr Xavier said that three local companies had applied for bauxite mining licences.

He added the applicants also comprised companies that had previously carried out bauxite mining in Kuantan.

“We expect to issue to licences by December this year or early January next year,” he said.

At present, the mining quota stands at 600 metric tons a month as that was the amount of bauxite the port could handle currently.

He said the state would take the lead in ensuring enforcement of the bauxite mining regulations.

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