Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) has called on Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar to maintain the moratorium on bauxite mining in Kuantan.
This was after Xavier yesterday announced that the three-year moratorium will finally expire on March 31.
"We urge the minister not to lift the ban on bauxite mining as there is no justification to do so, given the lack of clarity on the environmental measures and controls being taken to prevent a repeat of previous incidences of contamination and pollution.
"Profits for the mining industry must not be put ahead of the environment and health of the people.
"The environmental costs to the public and the environment must also be taken into account and we are upset that the minister has ignored this and has put the industry concerns ahead of the public interest," SAM president SM Mohamed Idris in a statement today.
Mohamed noted that the moratorium was previously imposed due to serious environmental impact from mining run-offs that contaminated water sources and turned roads, rivers and coastal waters red.
He added this severely impacted local communities, including fisherfolk.
Clearly, the minister has disregarded environmental concerns and has not consulted the affected local communities or environmental groups on the matter and has given in to the bauxite industry, alleged Mohamed.
"We also wonder if he has consulted with Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry, which is the relevant authority on environmental matters," he said.
The moratorium was first imposed on Jan 15, 2016, and extended every three months, pending the implementation of stricter Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) and the clearance of bauxite stockpiles at nearby ports.
Xavier, in his announcement yesterday, said the new SOP was ready for implementation when the moratorium expires.
He added that the remaining 435,000 metric tons of bauxite stored at Kuantan and Kemaman port must also be emptied within a month from March 31.