Malaysia's bauxite fiasco

Malaysia's bauxite fiasco

Despite moratorium bauxite mining still continues in Malaysia

For some settlers in Felda Bukit Kuantan, the moratorium imposed by the Malaysian cabinet since Jan 15 should have put a temporary halt on bauxite-mining activities here. But little did they know that mining activities in their area are still actively going on. “At first, I thought the lorries are clearing the remaining stockpiles in the oil palm plantation. “But when they continued transporting the bauxite few months after the moratorium was imposed, I realised that the mining activities are still being carried out,” said a settler when met recently. He also claimed that reports lodged on the activities seemed to fall on deaf ears. Since the extended moratarium will only end on Dec 31, he said, miners were using a back road to transport the mineral. “It clearly shows that they are breaching the moratorium and stern action must be taken against them.” A second-generation settler, who is in his 40s, blamed the lack of enforcement and supervision by agencies for the mining activities. He said heavy presence of enforcement officers was seen only during the first and second phase of the moratorium from Jan 15 to April 14 and from April 15 to July 15. “Their presence prompted the miners to slow down their activities but now, the enforcement officers can hardly be seen,” he said. On Jan 14, Natural Resources and Environment Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Azizan Ahmad announced that enforcement authorities would be stationed at several locations to ensure compliance by all parties. He said legal action would be taken against those who breached the moratorium.
A settler, who was reluctant to talk at first, called on the State government to find a solution to the problem. “I think the prolonged moratorium had left miners with no choice but to do it (bauxite-mining) secretly,” she said. Pahang Lands and Mines director Nazri said they would act against any parties involved in illegal mining of bauxite at Felda Bukit Kuantan. When contacted Nazri said they were investigating the case and would refer it to the state Deputy Public Prosecutor Office for further action. (NST)

Bauxite introduction

Bauxite, an aluminium ore, is the world's main source of aluminium. It consists mostly of the minerals gibbsite Al(OH)3, boehmite γ-AlO(OH) and diaspore α-AlO(OH), mixed with the two iron oxides goethite and haematite, the clay mineral kaolinite and small amounts of anatase TiO2. In 1821 the French geologist Pierre Berthier discovered bauxite near the village of Les Baux in Provence, southern France.[1] In 1861, French chemist Henri Sainte-Claire Deville named the mineral "bauxite”.
In 2009, Australia was the top producer of bauxite with almost one-third of the world's production, followed by China, Brazil, India, and Guinea. Although aluminium demand is rapidly increasing, known reserves of its bauxite ore are sufficient to meet the worldwide demands for aluminium for many centuries.[3] Increased aluminium recycling, which has the advantage of lowering the cost in electric power in producing aluminium, will considerably extend the world's bauxite reserves.

Malaysian moratorium on bauxite mining extended util year end

The moratorium on bauxite mining in Pahang is extended to 31 December 31. Natural Resources and Environment Minister Jaafar said this was because there were still about 4.13 million metric tonnes of bauxite stockpiles that had yet to be cleared and exported. The Malaysian Government has agreed to extend the moratorium deadline, which was supposed to be on 15 September, to 31 December. So far 38 special approved permits (APs) to clear out the bauxite stockpiles. Until the stockpile is cleared, the moratorium on bauxite mining will not be lifted. This is the third time that the Government had extended the moratorium, which calls for a halt to bauxite mining activities in the state. It was first imposed on Jan 15 this year and scheduled to end on April 15, but the deadline was then extended to July 15. On Jun 29, the Government agreed to extend again, this time to Sept 15, to allow more time to clear the stockpile.

Malaysian bauxite ban to be extended

An official close to the government confirmed that the ban on bauxite mining will be extended. Without the extension, bauxite mining will resume on April 15. The ban on bauxite mining was imposed on January 15 to address industry concerns such as pollution, the lack of regulations as well as excessive extraction by operators. Ever since several land officers have been charged with bauxite graft.
In an earlier statement, the Pahang Mineral Operators Association said that it hoped that the ban won’t be extended as mining operators have followed the standard operating procedures including matters related to pollution and cleanliness. Since the government imposed a ban on bauxite mining the Pahang Mineral Operators Association claims to have suffered RM 800mil in losses. A group of protesters walked over 360km from Kuantan to the Parliament House to send a message for better regulations for the bauxite mining industry. Jefri Jaafar Tukemin, who spoke for the protesters, said they have no intention of asking the government to stop bauxite mining.
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Malaysian bauxite scandal might even got more worse

The bauxite scandal in Malaysia might even got more worse as the Selangor government is now conducting tests on raw water from Pahang following fears of bauxite sediment pollution in rivers there. Selangor is receiving raw water supply from Pahang through the Pahang-Selangor Raw Water Channelling Project (PPAMPS) to meet the needs of consumers until the completion of the Langat 2 water treatment plant in 2019.
Bauxite polluted water will contribute to ghastly health problems for Malaysians, including respiratory, neurological, and kidney disorders and damages.

Malaysia bauxite scandal getting worse

It has emerged that only 36 of the 236 sites mined for bauxite were legal. This means that for every one legal mining site being excavated for the mineral, there are at least six illegal ones being dug up. A source within the state, privy to ongoing checks to the systems, in revealing this, also confirmed that there had been suggestions of the presence of certain individuals who would buy the illicit stocks from these illegal miners and facilitate their export to China. They said these illegal miners had no problems tearing up bauxite-rich land in Kuantan, which they secured from landowners, hoping to make millions by leasing out their parcels for the precious content to be extracted.

Scientists warn: don't underestimate impact of bauxite-mining on environment

While Kuantan may be seeing some improvement to its environment following the moratorium against bauxite mining, academics say the long-term damage may be much harder to fix. United Nations University research fellow Prof Dr Jamal Hisham Hashim said unless the mining areas were rehabilitated, a temporary ban on bauxite mining would not be enough to fix things. He said rehabilitation meant measures like refilling mines and repairing damage to roads and neighbourhoods near mines.
“Rehabilitation isn’t likely, especially not by illegal miners. They can leave it to the land owners to clean up the mess,” he said, during a forum on sustainable bauxite mining at University Malaya.
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Pahang coast at least three years badly affected by bauxite-mining disaster

According to Malaysian Society of Marine Sciences chairman Dr Harinder Rai Singh the contamination would be fatal to marine life. Harinder, who is advising the environment department on the marine ecology affected by the bauxite contamination in Kuantan, said the contamination would harm the breathing system of sea creatures. “It affects all forms of life, from the planktons to the top carnivores in the area, even the marine mammals,” said Harinder, who is also a marine expert at the Malaysia National Oceanographic Data Centre.

Long-term exposure to bauxite dust can lead to Alzheimer's, says researcher

Long-term exposure to bauxite dust can lead to miners and residents living along transport routes developing Alzheimer’s disease, said Research fellow at Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin’s (UniSZA) Air Quality Division of the East Coast Environmental Research Institute, Dr Azman Azid. He said bauxite contained aluminium hydroxide and if inhaled, the bauxite dust which is released into the air over a long period of time could block the oxygen supply to the blood and nervous system. “When the brain does not get sufficient oxygen, a person is exposed to the risk of Alzheimer’s or suffering memory loss,” he told Bernama when contacted here today. He said, based on a study conducted by the institute at several affected areas in the last few months including at the Bukit Goh Tahfiz School, located near the main bauxite transport routes, it was found that the air pollution there had exceeded the hazardous level and recorded an Air Pollutant Index reading of 468. Azman described the air pollution in the area as serious and he estimated that the suspended particles less than 10 microns had reached levels over 200 ug/m3 (microgrammes per cubic metre), exceeding the standards set by the Malaysian Ambient Air Quality Guidelines of 150 ug/m3.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission: Elements of corruption have been found in Pahang bauxite mining activities

Elements of corruption have been found in Pahang bauxite mining activities, said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) today. MACC in a statement said its investigations revealed corruption was practiced by several parties involved, and that it would not hesitate to take action against those involved in the graft practices and abuse of power. MACC said that those found guilty will be charged under MACC Act 2009 following reports made by members of the public. Earlier today, Environment and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said that all bauxite-mining activities in Kuantan will be suspended for three months starting Jan 15. Wan Junaidi added that the government had ceased approving all Approved Permits (APs) for the mining activities last week. The three months grace period is to allow companies to clear their stockpile as well as to give the ministry time to implement required measures and systems to better manage their operations.

China fuels Malaysia’s red boom in bauxite trade

Malaysia is a small player in the global bauxite industry but strong demand from China has fuelled a red boom in the country. In 2013, Malaysia reportedly produced 208,770 tonnes of bauxite, a tiny figure compared to world leader Australia which produced 81 million tonnes.
The following year saw a three-fold jump in Malaysia’s production to 962,799 tonnes, according to figures from the Minerals and Geoscience Department. Last year, Malaysia produced an estimated 20 million tonnes to overtake Australia as the biggest bauxite exporter to China. The staggering jump in production is partly to fill a void left by Indonesia which restricted exports in 2014 to compel local companies to develop smelters, add value and create more jobs.
Strong demand from China over the past few years has made bauxite mining a lucrative business in Malaysia.
Mining operations have, however, left many areas covered in red dust and created worries about river and sea water contamination. Despite the big profits, questions have been raised on how long the current bauxite boom can last.
Reuters reported that the price of aluminium fell last November to its lowest in six years as China’s economic growth slowed, creating an oversupply. It has also been noted that Malaysia has a relatively small reserve of bauxite. Bloomberg quoted mining company Rio Tinto Group’s chief executive officer for aluminium Alf Barrios as saying that “Malaysia can only maintain its current level of production for another three or four years before its reserves run out”.
The Minerals and Geoscience Department in its 2014 Compendium states that Malaysia’s aluminium/bauxite reserves currently stand at 18 million metric tonnes valued at RM1bil.

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