PETALING JAYA: Bauxite mining companies can afford to wait “a little longer” for the final list of standard operating procedures (SOPs) if they do not want their operations to be affected again, according to a senior official.
Pahang Mineral Operators Association vice-president Datuk Yap Soon Huat said it would be in the best interest of all to agree on the SOP rather than have public complaints resulting in disruptions.
“It’s better to take the time and properly agree on the SOP. The moratorium was implemented for three years, so what is another one or two-month wait?” he said.
Although the operators risked incurring losses due to delays, Yap described such risks as part and parcel of the business.
“You win some, you lose some,” he said, urging all stakeholders to give their views at the public hearing on the draft SOP scheduled for April 14.
Yap said the public hearing was the right thing to do as it would allow everyone to agree on fair terms.
“We support what the government is doing, especially when it concerns the environment, so we want to take this chance to get the SOP right,” he said.
Malaysian Nature Society president Prof Dr Ahmad Ismail hoped the operators would have enough expertise, facilities and monitoring systems to follow the SOP and conduct environmental impact assessments at their sites.
“Monitoring and enforcement by the authorities are also important and enforcement personnel must ensure that they are equipped with the right knowledge, skills and integrity to handle the job,” he said.
Ahmad said the onus was also on the public to educate themselves on the mining processes and toxic effects they might have in order to take precautions.
“The government should reveal past experiences when it comes to bauxite mining, not to scare the public but to encourage them to help the authorities to monitor the situation.
“We cannot wait for another disaster to happen,” he said.
Bauxite is a sedimentary rock that is high in aluminium content and is the world’s main source of aluminium.
Bauxite deposits found closer to the surface are extracted using shallow, open-cut mining through open-pit methods, while those found deeper underground require undergroundmining methods.
However, unscrupulous mining methods can have a detrimental effect on the environment.
Neglectful acts can cause air pollution due to the dust from the mines, which can also affect drinking water sources if such methods cause harmful elements such as arsenic and mercury to leach into them.
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