Seized stockpiles valued at RM1.28b
KUANTAN: The 10 million tonnes of bauxite stockpiles seized by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission are estimated to be worth RM1.28 billion and most are concentrated in areas around Felda Bukit Goh and Kuantan port here.
Pahang Mining Operators Association vice-president Yap Soon Huat said the estimation was based on the average export price of a tonne of the mineral at US$30 (RM128).
“I was surprised when informed about the 10 million tonnes of bauxite confiscated by MACC as bauxite mining dropped after the government enforced the moratorium (on mining bauxite).
“I am not sure who is mining bauxite illegally. Last year’s records showed that bauxite export only came to six million tonnes while for 2015, there were 25 million tonnes of known (bauxite) that was recorded. It was the highest bauxite export in the world after Indonesia halted its (bauxite) mining.”
On Saturday, MACC announced that it would seize 10 million metric tonnes of bauxite stockpiles to prevent the mineral from being sold and to facilitate a probe into illegal bauxite mining.
The confiscation of stockpiles found on government and private land is made under Section 33 of the MACC Act 2009. Those who contravene the seizure notice can be punished under Section 69 of the same Act.
MACC had also suggested that the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry relook the issuance of Approved Permits (APs) to bauxite miners and the cancellation of APs issued previously.
Pahang MACC director Datuk Alias Salim confirmed several areas where bauxite stockpiles were seized were located near Felda Bukit Goh and Kuantan Port.
However, he declined to provide details about the operation.
On Aug 2, MACC conducted a crackdown on illegal bauxite mining, nabbing a senior state Customs enforcement officer, 10 state Land and Mines Office (PTG) enforcement officers, and a PTG general assistant.
The Customs officer was alleged to have taken kickbacks to turn a blind eye to illegallymined bauxite taken to Kuantan Port to be exported.
The 10 officers were purported to have received bribes to inform miners of raids by the authorities.
According to MACC deputy public prosecutor Mohamad Fadhly Mohd Zamry, only the PTG general assistant remained under remand while the others had been released from remand.
At the Kuantan Courts Complex here yesterday, magistrate Nordiana Abd Aziz allowed an application by MACC prosecuting officer Mohd Faisal Ibrahim to extend the remand on the general assistant.
His remand was ordered to run for five days from yesterday to Friday.
Checks in Felda Bukit Goh here found a sign, at an entrance to land where there were bauxite stockpiles, notifying people of the seizure.
A drive in major roads in the plantation reveals wide clearings with towering stockpiles of bauxite.
Heavy machinery and excavators lay silent in areas where reddish bauxite stained the earth, their operators not seen in the vicinity.
Now and then, white four-wheel drive vehicles could be seen parked at the side of the road leading to land where bauxite stockpiles are located.
The identities of the drivers or other occupants within were hard to determine due to the vehicles’ tinted windows.
These vehicles hint at the presence of “tontos”, or lookouts purportedly used by miners to look out for raids and keep attention away from mining in the settlement.
On Jan 15 last year, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry ordered a moratorium on bauxite mining.
The Federal Government order, however, permitted transportation of bauxite stockpiles, collected from mining done before the moratorium, out from mining areas to Kuantan Port for shipment overseas.
A notice from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission informing people of the bauxite stockpile seizure in Felda Bukit Goh in Kuantan yesterday.
Yap Soon Huat