The environmental catastrophe of bauxite mining needs immediate attention

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Environmental Catastrophe in the making

Reported in The Malay Mail Online,
Suspend bauxite export licenses until industry regulated, MP tells Putrajaya
BY JOSEPH SIPALAN

Monday November 2, 2015
04:24 PM GMT+8

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 — The federal government needs to step in and suspend all licenses issued to export bauxite until it can implement regulations to deal with the allegedly rampant pollution caused by the industry, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh said today.

The PKR lawmaker claimed that everything from Kuantan’s air to its water supply and physical environment have been contaminated by the red taint of bauxite mining since it took off in a big way sometime last year.

Fuziah said bauxite mining is only regulated under the Environmental Quality Act (EQA) 1974 if it is done on a plot of land measuring 250 acres or more, with smaller mines not required to prepare any environment impact assessment (EIA).

“There are loopholes in the law, so they get away without (needing an) EIA,” she said at a news conference at the Parliament lobby here.

Fuziah, who was among the harshest critics of the controversial Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan some five years ago, claimed that the rising demand from China for bauxite has lead to numerous cases of illegal mining and traffic hazards involving lorries “racing” to the port to make as many trips as possible.

The mining activities at the same time have released heavy metal particles into Kuantan’s air and water supply, which have allegedly sparked an outbreak of respiratory problems and skin disease while water treatment plants are unable to filter out the contaminants, she added.

“Three companies alone can export about one million tonnes (of bauxite) a month, and we have 44 companies which is about 15 million tonnes a month.

“Can you imagine how they are raping the earth, how they rape to get the 15 million tonnes a month in order to export to China?” Fuziah said.

Fuziah said they have collected nearly 2,500 signatures from Kuantan’s residents in support of a petition seeking Parliament’s intervention and pressure the Pahang state government to suspend all export licenses to make way for a review of the relevant laws and procedures and to rehabilitate the environment.

She added that they are pushing for the petition to be tabled in Parliament on November 25.

“It has not yet become full blown, but we have enough bauxite to last another three to five years. I don’t think the people of Kuantan can go through this for another three to five years… we have to put a stop to this,” she said.

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