KUANTAN: After more than three years, the moratorium on bauxite mining activities in Pahang has ended but this does not mean mining can restart tomorrow.
As emphasised by Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar, the stop-work order would only be withdrawn after all relevant parties were ready to implement and enforce the standard operating procedure (SOP) made available on Sunday (March 31).
The draft SOP covers mining rights application planning, bauxite mining site management, stockpile and port management, transportation and enforcement methods, and exportation procedures.
Under these strict regulations, the minimum conditions for mining lease or proprietary mining lease application must be at least 20ha, whether it be an individual lot or a combination of neighbouring lots.
Only applicants competent in technical and financial capabilities would be considered.
"Technical competency means there must be a permanent mining engineer and safety, occupational health and environment officer.
"Financially, they must be able to prepare the capital and equipment suitable for the proposed mining method, as well as public liability insurance of up to RM1mil," it said.
The draft SOP also states that all new and existing mining and stockpile sites must obtain approved environmental impact assessment (EIA).
"The EIA report must contain health impact assessment, social impact assessment and traffic impact assessment," it said.
A rehabilitation plan must also be submitted for approval by the state mineral resources committee before any activity can begin.
On pollution control, the SOP states that operators would be required to implement environmental pollution mitigation measures at mining sites.
"In this matter, erosion and sediment control must be given attention to prevent, reduce and manage the release of major pollutants such as suspended solids arising from soil disturbance at the mining sites," it said.
After mining, bauxite ore from mines located 5km from Kuantan Port must be stored in a centralised stockpile before it can be sent to the port for export.
There would be no stockpile within the port area except for transit purposes.
The operations procedure at centralised stockpile sites is to ensure the bauxite is received from legitimate mines and also to identify transport lorries that have registered with the Pahang Land and Mines Office.
Strict environmental pollution control measures such as netting, silt traps and washing bays are also required to be installed at the stockpile sites.
Transport lorries must adhere to certain specifications to ensure the safety of road users, the environment and infrastructures, it adds.
"Registration of bauxite transport lorries is compulsory for all operators and it must be renewed every three months.
"Each time an operator wishes to renew the registration, the lorry must undergo inspection by Puspakom as a pre-condition for approval," it says.
Specific routes have also been outlined from Kota SAS, Felda Bukit Goh, Felda Bukit Kuantan, Gebeng industrial area and others to Kuantan Port.
There would be three peak-hour zones when transport lorries would not be allowed to use the road. These are 6am-8am, 12pm-2pm and 5pm-7pm.
On bauxite exportation, the SOP says the Kuantan Port Authority has set a monthly capacity of 600,000 tonnes of bauxite that it can handle.
"The ministry will issue an approved permit that is valid for only three months to control the movement of bauxite and to make sure the quota is adhered to by operators," it says.
The ministry said it hoped the SOP could resolve the issues that led to the implementation of the moratorium, such as illegal mining, misuse of transit documents and disorganised stockpile management that caused dust and water pollution.
"The ministry hopes the proposed improvements will increase efficiency in managing mining and the exportation of bauxite. With the implementation of these improvements, it is also hoped that it will change the negative perception of the public and thus boost the local economy in mineral resources," it said.
A public hearing on the SOP would be held at the Dewan Jubli Perak Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah here on April 14.