Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Bauxite freeze will not fix long-term damage, says academics

A temporary ban on bauxite mining would not be enough to remedy the long-term damage it caused, said academics as quoted by The Star Online today. They told the English-language daily that the damage might be harder to fix, even if a moratorium on bauxite mining resulted in improvements in the environment. United Nations University research fellow Professor Dr Jamal Hisham Hashim was quoted as saying the mining areas needed rehabilitation with measures like refilling mines, and repairing damage to roads and neighbourhoods near the mines. Speaking at a forum on sustainable bauxite mining at Universiti Malaya yesterday, he said this was unlikely to be done by illegal miners. "Rehabilitation isn't likely, especially not by illegal miners. They can leave it to the land owners to clean up the mess," he was quoted as saying in the report. Jamal said of the 1,200ha of bauxite mines in Kuantan, 790ha were on Felda land, which was previously oil palm plantations. Universiti Teknologi Mara Associate Professor Dr Harinder Rai Singh said the Pahang capital was at a tipping point and if not addressed, the oil palm estate ecosystem could be permanently damaged. Another academic, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Chemi­­­cal Engineering Department Associate Professor Dr Maketab Moha­mad, said the move by Felda settlers to clear their lots for bauxite mining could damage future attempts to regrow oil palm trees on the sites. This was because water pollution data had shown that the presence of chromium in bauxite run-off was poisonous to oil palm trees, he said. The daily also reported that the academia was urged to conduct more studies during the moratorium to accurately gauge the impact of bauxite mining. A representative from the Mine­ral and Geoscience Department in attendance at the forum said environmental agencies were also conducting their own research on how to improve the bauxite industry. The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry imposed a three-month moratorium against the mining and transport of bauxite ore starting from January 15 this year. This was following a January 13 directive by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to the Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government to carry out cleaning works in areas affected by the bauxite mining from January 14 to February 14. During the temporary ban, Kuantan Port is to clear its backlogged bauxite stockpile while the authorities worked to improve the industry's standards. It was reported that about two-thirds of the areas were polluted by bauxite waste, covering 39 locations and 17 residential sites, have since been cleaned up. – February 17, 2016.]]>

No comments:

Post a Comment