MACC SEIZURE HALTS ILLEGAL BAUXITE MINING
Lorries illegally transporting bauxite have disappeared from highways
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.
No bauxite transporting has occurred since MACC seized 10 million tonnes of bauxite stockpiles throughout Pahang.