Malaysia has announced the finalisation of new operating procedures for bauxite mining and export activities based on an earlier draft proposal after discussions with various stakeholders, including miners and green groups.
The new operating procedures include capping monthly bauxite exports at 600,000 tonnes.
According to a Reuters report, the Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister, Dr Xavier Jayakumar, said that although this move was specific to Pahang state, “the ministry will expand its usage to the whole country through broader standard operating procedures”.
The Southeast Asian nation was once the biggest bauxite supplier to top aluminium producer China, with shipments peaking at nearly 3.5 million tonnes a month around the end of 2015. Most of Malaysia's bauxite is mined in the East Coast port city of Kuantan in Pahang.
Pahang Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail, vowed that careful screening of bauxite mining permit applications will be undertaken to prevent incidents of environmental pollution from recurring in the state.
He said the careful screening of the applications was important to ensure that those granted permits for bauxite mining operations and export licences met the new standard operating procedure (SOP) criteria.
“We have agreed to use the new SOP set by the Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources and to ensure its effectiveness, the bauxite mining permit cannot be issued easily.
“Careful screening of the applications will be undertaken before the state government can issue the permit and mining activities can begin.”
All mining activities were banned in early 2016 after unregulated mining and run-off from unsecured stockpiles contaminated water sources.
Earlier this year, Malaysia lifted the mining ban due to strong demand for bauxite, but later added that bauxite miners must each conduct an environmental impact study on their sites before receiving licences to restart operations.