The moratorium on bauxite mining activities in Kuantan, Pahang which is to end on Sept 15, has been extended to Dec 31.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, in announcing this, said the moratorium extension for the third time was approved by the cabinet today.
He said this was to enable the 38 special approved permit (AP) holders to export the 4.13 million tonnes of bauxite stockpile at three collection centres, namely in Sungai Ular, Felda Bukit Goh and Gebeng.
Wan Junaidi said the export of bauxite was rather slow since the moratorium was imposed on Jan 15, this year, with only 1.27 million tonnes exported via Kuantan Port and Kemaman, from the original amount of 5.4 million tonnes.
"If it is still not exported by this Dec 31, I may ask for a moratorium extension of six months more," he said at a press conference in Putrajaya.
Asked whether the slow export of bauxite was due to the lack of demand from other countries, Wan Junaidi said: "I don't think so, there must be some business calculation."
The government had imposed a three-month moratorium from Jan 15 to April 14, on all bauxite mining activities in Pahang, before extending it twice until Sept 15 to enable all the bauxite stockpiles around Kuantan to be cleared.
Wan Junaidi said the ministry had issued 38 special APs with the approved export quantity of 3.76 million tonnes until Aug 31, and the number of these APs remained to facilitate monitoring and control.
He said the standard operating procedure and rules related to bauxite mining in Kuantan had been completed and submitted to the relevant ministries to get their views before tabling it to the cabinet soon.
On illegal bauxite mining, Wan Junaidi said the ministry with the cooperation of various enforcement agencies was still monitoring to curb this.
On Aug 15 and 29, police detained nine 'tonto' (lookout persons) believed to be protecting illegal bauxite mining activities around Bukit Goh.