KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 Malaysia on Tuesday
extended a moratorium on bauxite mining by a further three
months to June 30, looking to clear remaining stockpiles of the
aluminium raw material as it presses the industry to halt damage
to the environment.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi
Tuanku Jaafar said 2.15 million tonnes of bauxite still remained
around Kuantan, the port capital of key bauxite producing state
Pahang, from a total of 5.4 million tonnes before the moratorium
was first imposed.
Malaysia's largely unregulated bauxite industry ramped up
output in 2014 to fill a supply gap after Indonesia banned
exports, but the frenetic pace of digging led to a public outcry
over water contamination and other environmental damage.
The government imposed a three-month ban on bauxite mining
in January last year, and has extended it several times as it
waits for the stockpiles to be run down.
"As of Feb. 28, only 3.25 million metric tonnes of bauxite
were exported," Wan Junaidi said in a statement, although he
added that some mining was still going on despite the
"The extension of the moratorium will give space to industry
players to clear existing stockpiles and prepare measures to
mitigate pollution across the bauxite mining and export supply
chain," he said.
Angry residents have protested over the contamination of
water sources and the destruction of the environment in a region
where heavy rains lead to bauxite runoff.
(Reporting by Emily Chow; Editing by Richard Pullin)