KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 19 ― The Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry must state whether it has consulted the relevant authority on its move to lift the moratorium on bauxite mining as it does not have the power to regulate the environmental impacts of such activities, a group said today.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) said it is shocked to learn of the decision by Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar to lift the moratorium on bauxite mining in Pahang and for activities to resume effective April 1.
“Clearly, the WLNR Minister has disregarded environmental concerns and has not consulted the affected local communities or environmental groups on the matter and has given in to the bauxite industry.
“We also wonder if he has consulted with MESTECC, which is the relevant authority on environmental matters,” SAM said in a statement, referring to the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change.
SAM pointed out that while the the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry is responsible for regulating the mining industry including bauxite, it does not have the jurisdiction and authority to regulate the environmental impacts of such mining activities, which is within the purview of Mestecc, under the enforcement of the Environmental Quality Act, 1974.
The group also reminded Dr Xavier that the original moratorium was imposed by ex-Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar three years ago, due to very serious environmental effects that resulted from the mining activities and run-offs from unsecured stockpiles that contaminated water sources, turning roads, rivers and coastal waters red and severely impacted local communities.
“We urge the Minister not to lift the ban on bauxite mining as there is no justification to do so, given the lack of clarity on the environmental measures and controls being taken to prevent a repeat of previous incidences of contamination and pollution,” SAM said.
Yesterday, Dr Xavier announced that the moratorium on the mining and export of bauxite from Pahang which ends on March 31 will not be extended.
He said all activities on the mining and export of the mineral can be resumed, although this time with a new standard operating procedure as well as tighter enforcement of the law.