Malaysia will extend its ban on bauxite mining by another three months, effective April 15, in order to clear stockpiles and remove the risk of the aluminium-making ingredient contaminating the country’s rivers, the environment minister said on Friday.
While lower output at the world’s top exporter of bauxite threatens to interrupt supply to the world’s biggest aluminium producer, China, traders expect the impact to be limited given China’s ample stocks of the raw material.
Malaysia’s largely unregulated bauxite mining industry has boomed in the past two years to meet demand from China, filling in a supply gap after Indonesia banned exports, but the frenetic pace of digging has led to a public outcry with many complaining of water contamination and destruction of the environment.
Late last year, bauxite mining was blamed for turning the waters and seas red near Kuantan, the capital of Malaysia’s third-largest state and key bauxite producer Pahang, following which, in January, the government imposed its first three-month ban on mining the commodity.
“The cabinet today agreed to the ministry’s suggestion that the bauxite moratorium in Kuantan be extended by three more months,” said Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Malaysia’s natural resources and environment minister at a press conference.
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