MACC SEIZURE HALTS IL­LE­GAL BAUX­ITE MIN­ING

Lor­ries il­le­gally trans­port­ing baux­ite have dis­ap­peared from high­ways

New Straits Times - - News / Issues - HIDIR REDUAN KUANTAN hidirre­d­uan@nst.com.my

SINCE Jan 15 last year, lor­ries have plied the main roads be­tween Bukit Kuantan and Bukit Goh here, trans­port­ing baux­ite from stock­piles there to be ex­ported at Kuantan Port.

How­ever, the red-stained lor­ries have dis­ap­peared from the roads since Aug 12, when the Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (MACC) seized 10 mil­lion tonnes of baux­ite stock­piles through­out Pa­hang.

For Ger­akan Hen­tikan Pence­maran Bauk­sit (Geram) chair­man Ali Akhbar Oth­man, the ab­sence of baux­ite-laden lor­ries was a vin­di­ca­tion of claims that il­le­gal baux­ite min­ing was tak­ing place even dur­ing the mora­to­rium.

On Jan 15 last year, the Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry had im­posed a mora­to­rium on the fresh min­ing of the alu­minium ore, with only stock­pile-clear­ing ac­tiv­i­ties al­lowed.

Ali said that since Aug 12, the en­vi­ron­men­tal non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion (NGO) stopped re­ceiv­ing re­ports from res­i­dents of baux­ite-laden lor­ries com­ing and go­ing in known stock­pile locations at Bukit Goh, Bukit Kuantan, and Ja­bor.

“The seizure by MACC de­terred fur­ther ac­tiv­i­ties (re­lated to fresh baux­ite min­ing), which had been go­ing on since last year.”

He said de­spite the mora­to­rium com­ing into ef­fect on Jan 15 last year, cer­tain miners had con­ducted fresh min­ing, es­pe­cially at night.

“Since Aug 12, we have not re­ceived re­ports of baux­ite-move­ment (by lor­ries),” he said, adding that lor­ries in­volved in baux­itere­lated ac­tiv­i­ties were now trans­port­ing rocks from quar­ries.

“We are not against baux­ite min­ing, but we are against min­ing that goes against stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures meant to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment.”

He urged govern­ment agen­cies, such as the state Land and Mines Of­fice (PTG), the state Road Transport De­part­ment (RTD) and the po­lice, to strengthen co­op­er­a­tion to stop min­ing.

“A long-term so­lu­tion is needed to tackle this prob­lem,” he said, ex­plain­ing that the MACC seizure could only be con­sid­ered a short-term so­lu­tion.

On MACC’s con­tention that there were 10 mil­lion tonnes of baux­ite stock­piles through­out Pa­hang, he said the fig­ure was plau­si­ble, adding that there were at least be­tween five and seven mil­lion tonnes of baux­ite stock­piled here.

“How­ever, this is hard for us (Geram) to ver­ify as we can­not en­ter baux­ite stock­pile ar­eas.”

He said that not only were the stock­piles lo­cated deep in oil palm plan­ta­tions, but that the en­try points were bar­ri­caded and guarded.

He said the en­try point guards were peo­ple hired by min­ing op­er­a­tors.

When con­tacted, state MACC di­rec­tor Datuk Alias Salim said that there had not been at­tempts to re­move baux­ite from stock­pile ar­eas.

He also con­firmed that it would con­tinue to mon­i­tor the sites to en­sure miners and other par­ties abided by the seizure or­der and obeyed the law.

A 49-year-old res­i­dent of Bukit Goh con­firmed that no lor­ries were seen trans­port­ing baux­ite ever since MACC seized the stock­piles.

Clearly happy with the au­thor­i­ties’ de­ci­sion, the woman, who de­clined to be iden­ti­fied, said that the MACC de­ci­sion had stopped fresh min­ing that had been go­ing on since early last year.

“The road (link­ing Bukit Goh and Bukit Kuantan) is com­pletely bare of lor­ries car­ry­ing baux­ite,” said the res­i­dent, who works in a shop be­tween en­try points to the stock­piled baux­ite in oil palm plan­ta­tions.

She said min­ing op­er­a­tors were afraid to go against the MACC seizure or­der.

Checks on so­cial me­dia showed pho­to­graphs of baux­ite-laden lor­ries travers­ing roads here from be­fore Aug 12, in­di­cat­ing the stop in baux­ite-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties since the seizure.

PIC BY MUHAM­MAD ASYRAF SAWAL

No baux­ite trans­port­ing has oc­curred since MACC seized 10 mil­lion tonnes of baux­ite stock­piles through­out Pa­hang.

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