NGO urges extension for public display of EIA report for bauxite-mining project in Pahang

KUANTAN: A non-governmental organisation campaigning against bauxite mining pollution is asking for an extension to the public display of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report on a proposed project.

Gerakan Rakyat Hentikan Pencemaran Bauksit (Geram) chairman Ali Akbar Othman said the public review for the EIA, which ended on July 21, should be extended since not many people were aware of it.

"I only came to know about it from a news report a few days ago. We are in the middle of the movement control order so not many may have seen the report or even know about it.

"I think it will be good if the public review is extended by another month so more people can give their feedback," he said when contacted on Sunday (July 25).

The EIA report was for a proposed bauxite mining operation in a 3,642.176ha area in Bukit Goh and Bukit Kuantan.

The trustee holder for the proposed project is PKNP Mineral Industries Sdn Bhd, while the mine operator is BG Mining Sdn Bhd.

Findings of the EIA study, based on a random sample of 390 respondents located within a 5km radius of the project site and traffic users along the transport route, were that a majority of them were not aware of the proposed project.

"Very few of the communities surveyed (32%) were aware of the proposed project.

"In terms of the benefits that the proposed project is anticipated to provide, a high proportion of the respondents (85%) felt that the project would not be beneficial to them," said Ali Akbar about the report, adding that 65% of respondents did not agree with the project.

Among the reasons provided were issues dealing with air pollution and road damage.

Heavy traffic was another reason, with respondents saying there would be many heavy trucks carrying the bauxite materials, questioning the effects of red dust on homes and vehicles, potential effects on the river system and likely effects on health due to the bad air quality.

Ali Akbar hoped there would not be a repeat of the issues caused by bauxite mining that plagued the community in 2015 and 2016.

"Bauxite can be mined but there must be strict standard operating procedures. We don't want our surroundings to be polluted by red dust again.

"We also don't want mining operators to leave the plantation land all dug up and then abandoned," he said.

Similarly, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh agreed that there should be an extension to the public review of the EIA.

She claimed that many Bukit Goh residents have not read the report online.

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