KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — The Johor government said it has not received any bauxite mining application on Felda land in Kota Tinggi, after reports of an investment project worth billions of ringgit by a joint-venture company.
Berita Harian reported state International Trade, Investment and Utilities Committee chairman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse saying no one, whether an individual or from a company, had contacted either the Johor Land and Mines Department or the Environmental Department for bauxite mining in Kota Tinggi.
“Up until now, the Johor government has no information regarding this investment. In fact the state government is wary of the announcement by the company, and hopes it is not an act meant to confuse the public in the name of their own self-interest,” Puah was quoted saying by the Malay daily.
He added that checks with Felda of future mining projects on its land in Kota Tinggi also turned up empty.
The state clarification follows news reports last Tuesday Malaysian firm The One Minerals Mining Sdn Bhd (TOMM) and its Hong Kong-based investment firm partner Via East West Capital planned to invest US$350 million (RM1.47 billion) to mine bauxite on 2,833 hectares in Kota Tinggi over the next five years.
TOMM managing director Looi Kam Yong reported said the mining would start in the next four to six months.
News of the potential bauxite mining has been met with opposition from Kota Tinggi Felda residents who fear their oil palm farms will turn into mines.
Berita Harian quoted one Felda pioneer in Semenchu, Safar Sulah, 72, saying opening a bauxite mine in the area would affect the livelihoods of the oil palm smallholders.
Kampung Baru Semenchu fisherman Isa Atan, 65, told the paper he grew up in the area and rejected any mining which could take away the main occupation of the people there.
“We have never heard of anything regarding the bauxite mining project. I cannot abide of such a thing if the villagers were not informed of it.
“It will affect our daily lives. How will our children be able to cross the roads safely once large trucks begin to move back and forth from the mining sites?” he was quoted saying.