Bauxite mining: Stringent SOPs proposed

  • Nation
  • Monday, 01 Apr 2019

Subject to changes: A former bauxite mining site in Bukit Goh, Kuantan.

KUANTAN: A stringent set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been proposed for the resumption of bauxite mining in Pahang following the end of a moratorium spanning three years on the activity.Under the new draft regulations, the minimum condition for a mining lease or proprietary mining lease application must cover an area of at least 20ha, irrespective of it being an individual lot or combination of adjacent lots.

Only applicants competent in technical and financial capabilities would be considered, and there must be a permanent mining engineer and safety, occupational health and environment officer on site.

“Financially, they must be able to prepare the capital and equipment suitable for the proposed mining method, and provide public liability insurance of up to RM1mil,” the draft SOP uploaded on the Water, Land and Natural Resources Min­istry website stated.

The comprehensive draft SOP covers mining rights application planning, bauxite mining site management, stockpile and port management, transportation and enforcement methods, and exportation procedures.It also stated that all new and existing mining and stockpile sites must obtain approved environmental impact assessment, which must contain health, social and traffic impact assessments.

A rehabilitation plan must also be submitted for approval by the state mineral resources committee before any activity can begin.

The federal government ordered a halt to all bauxite mining on Jan 15, 2016, to address concerns about pollution, lack of regulation and excessive extraction by the operators.Indiscriminate and largely unregulated bauxite mining activities caused rivers and sea water near Pantai Balok and Pantai Batu Hitam to turn “red” during heavy rainfall.

After months of public outcry, the then Natural Resources and Envir­onment Ministry announced what was first a three-month moratorium on bauxite mining to get things under control and clean up the state.The temporary ban was then extended a few times to enable all bauxite that had been extracted to be exported and for the clean-up of all the stockpiling areas.

At the time, it was revealed that there were still about 5.4 million tonnes of bauxite stockpiled outside of Kuantan Port, with about 2.3 million tonnes at mining sites, 1.8 million tonnes in Felda areas and 1.3 million tonnes in Gebeng.

On pollution control, the draft SOP stated that operators would be required to implement environmental pollution mitigation measures at mining sites.

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 will be no stockpiles within the port area except for transit purposes.

The operations procedure at centralised stockpile sites was to ensure that the bauxite was received from legitimate mines and to identify transport lorries that had registered with the Pahang Lands and Mines Office.

Strict environmental pollution control measures such as netting, silt traps and washing bays must be installed at the stockpile sites.

On bauxite export, the draft SOP stated that the monthly capacity of bauxite to be handled by the Kuan­tan Port would be set at 600,000 tonnes.

A public hearing on the draft SOP is scheduled to be held at Dewan Jubli Perak Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah here on April 14.

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