KUALA LUMPUR – Rivers and the sea ran red in parts of Malaysia this week after two days of heavy rain brought an increase in run-off from the booming and largely unregulated bauxite mining industry.
Demand from China for the aluminum ingredient has fed a rapid rise in bauxite mining in the third-largest state of Pahang, in the east of peninsular Malaysia, and concern is growing about the impact on the environment.
Media on Wednesday showed images of red seas and rivers near the state capital of Kuantan, the center of the industry and the location of a port from which much of the bauxite is shipped.
Reporters said the sea were discolored along a 15 km (9 mile) stretch of coast.“Of course the federal government and state government are concerned,” Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told Reuters.
“There has been an ongoing discussion but unfortunately during the monsoon season things got worse. Stockpiles leach out into the sea.”
In just three years, Malaysia has transformed itself from a modest supplier to the top source of the material for China.
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