Red flag over bauxite mining – NGO warns of risks due to lax enforcement

Peka wants the moratorium extended until all concerns in the EIA report are satisfactorily met.

An environmental NGO has called for the moratorium on bauxite mining in Pahang to be extended, noting how such activities in the past resulted in a “Martian environment”.

“We all know that enforcement of rules is not a well-carried out procedure in this country,” said Peka vice-president Sophine Tan.

She warned that unless all guidelines set out by the International Aluminium Institute are applied and strict enforcement of the rules is obtained, the concerns highlighted by the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report will, no doubt, be realised.

“On such note, Peka would suggest that the moratorium on bauxite mining be extended until and unless all the concerns highlighted by the EIA report are satisfactorily met,” she added.

Although the entire operation is now parked under the Pahang State Development Corporation (PKNP), Tan said there is still no guarantee of proper standard operating procedures (SOP) and enforcement.

“Mining of the mineral is not impossible, but it must be carried out with the proper SOP and, more importantly, the enforcement of the correct safety measures,” she said.

Tan said the entire operation must be carried out with strict adherence to the Sustainable Bauxite Mining Guidelines 2018 as set out by the International Aluminum Institute, which includes:

  • Identification of culturally and environmentally significant areas and alterations to mine plans to minimise impacts.
  • Control of dust levels by watering, road maintenance, and vehicle speed limits, load limits, and covering of vehicles.
  • Construction of settling ponds and other drainage control structures.
  • Rehabilitation planning and implementation as early as possible and progressively throughout the life of the mine, including landform design, topsoil usage, and revegetation outcomes.
  • Biodiversity management that identifies opportunities for improvement by introducing innovative and sustainable land management practices.
  • Noise abatement measures such as the provision of buffer zones, altered timing of operations, modification of equipment, changes to mining, and blasting methods.
  • Procedures to minimise fuel (hydrocarbon) and other spillages.
Peka vice-president Sophine Tan.

On a realistic note, Tan said there is no “sustainability” in any form of mining.

“Once the land is cleared of surface vegetation and the earth turned, the damage is already done.

“The main thing is to rehabilitate and recover the forest as much as possible and as fast as possible.

“The Pahang government must take into consideration what this project will mean to the rights of the future generation and act responsibly,” she added.

Previously, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh also raised doubts about proper enforcement and recalled how bauxite mining in the past covered the neighbouring areas in layers of red dust.

With the proposed mining site located in Bukit Goh, around 20km north of the Kuantan city centre, Fuziah expressed concern over the potential impact on the nearby water treatment plant.

She said the local community would be directly impacted if effluents of the mining site flowed into the rivers.

On July 16, Malaysiakini reported that the proposed mining site would cover 3,642.176ha or the equivalent of 6,806 football fields.

It is estimated that 170,000 tonnes of bauxite would be mined each month. It would take three years and eight months for the site to be fully mined.

The EIA report, prepared by KenEp Consultancy And Services, highlighted three major concerns, namely the pollution of rivers, the loss of fauna and their habitats, and the pollution of local living conditions.

By : LOW CHOON CHYUAN – MALAYSIAKINI

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