Moratorium on bauxite mining lifted, but where are the details? Pakatan MP asks

Pakatan MP Fuziah Salleh says any decision to lift the moratorium must be accompanied by proper public disclosure of important documents such as the details of the new SOP as well as the EIA on the affected bauxite mines. — Picture by Razak Ghazali
Pakatan MP Fuziah Salleh says any decision to lift the moratorium must be accompanied by proper public disclosure of important documents such as the details of the new SOP as well as the EIA on the affected bauxite mines. — Picture by Razak Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 ― Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh has questioned the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry’s move to resume bauxite mining in Pahang after a three-year moratorium, citing a lack of information.

She said its minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar “is under a lot of pressure to lift the moratorium”, but added that any decision to do so must be accompanied by proper public disclosure of important documents such as the details of the new standard operating procedure (SOP) as well as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the affected bauxite mines.

“There is a concern here. This SOP the minister has mentioned, this needs to be released to stakeholders, including the public as they are the most affected, not just government or agencies, and it needs to be disclosed before the moratorium is lifted,” Fuziah, who is also Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department aiding in Islamic affairs, told Malay Mail.

She also demanded to know the SOP for processing ores, saying that bauxite mining is still currently unsustainable due to the presence of wastewater containing heavy metals.

“I am concerned about bauxite processing. When the earth which contains heavy metals are processed, there is a fear they will enter the rivers (and contaminate them),” she said, adding that in 2015 some rivers were contaminated with the presence of heavy metals like cadmium and arsenic.

“There was even an issue of enforcement in the past,” she said.

When asked whether bauxite mining can be sustainable without damaging the environment, Fuziah said it would depend on Putrajaya's SOPs and enforcement methods under the purview of the Pahang state government.

The PKR politician has in the past spoken up against bauxite mining in the state.

Dr Xavier had said that the moratorium on the mining and export of bauxite from Pahang which ends on March 31 will not be extended, and that all activities on the mining and export of the mineral can be resumed with a new SOP as well as tighter enforcement of the law.

The minister had said that “there is a strong demand for the bauxite industry in Pahang” and the profit derived by the state is also “enormous.”

He had also added that no one wanted the bauxite industry in Pahang to be stopped.

The moratorium was first enforced on January 15, 2016.