Malaysia firms up bauxite mining, export operating procedures

A largely unregulated bauxite industry was blamed for turning some of Malaysia’s waters and seas red. (Image courtesy of Clean Malaysia)

Malaysia announced on Thursday it has finalized new operating procedures for bauxite mining and export activities based on an earlier draft proposal after discussions with various stakeholders including miners and green groups.

The new operating procedures include capping monthly bauxite exports at 600,000 tonnes.

“Although the procedure is specific to Pahang state, the ministry will expand its usage to the whole country through broader standard operating procedures,” said Xavier Jayakumar, minister of water, land and natural resources, at a press conference, adding that the new procedures come into effect on Thursday.

The Southeast Asian nation was once the biggest bauxite supplier to top aluminium producer China, with shipments peaking at nearly 3.5 million tonnes a month around the end of 2015. Most of Malaysia’s bauxite, an ore used to produce aluminium, is mined in the east coast port city of Kuantan in Pahang.

All mining activities were banned in early 2016 after unregulated mining and run-off from unsecured stockpiles contaminated water sources.

Earlier this year, Malaysia lifted the mining ban due to strong demand for bauxite, but later added that bauxite miners must each conduct an environmental impact study on their sites before receiving licences to restart operations.

(By Emily Chow; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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