Malaysia extends bauxite mining moratorium for six months
KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 (Reuters) – Malaysia has extended its bauxite mining moratorium for another six months until the end of the year to clear existing stockpiles of the aluminium-making commodity.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said in an emailed statement on Thursday the moratorium aims to restrict illegal mining activity on private land and companies that ignore mining guidelines, resulting in environmental pollution.
"The ministry along with the state government has agreed to extend the moratorium for six months more until December 31 to enable the rest of the bauxite to be exported," Wan Junaidi said.
The government first imposed a three-month ban on bauxite mining in January last year to curb the environmental damage residents said it caused. It has extended the moratorium several times as it waits for stocks to run down.
Wan Juanidi earlier said in March that there were 5.4 million tonnes of bauxite stockpiles when the moratorium was first imposed. Based on surveys in April however, there have been increases in the stockpiles, he said in Thursday's press statement.
"As of June 8, 5.8 million tonnes of bauxite has been exported from Malaysia," Wan Junaidi said.
Malaysia's bauxite is mostly mined in Kuantan, the capital of the east coast state of Pahang. The largely unregulated bauxite mining industry had boomed over the last two years to meet demand from top aluminium producer China, filling in a supply gap after Indonesia banned exports.
(Reporting by Emily Chow; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and David Evans)