KUALA LUMPUR – A year and a half after banning bauxite mining to force miners to meet environmental standards, Malaysia’s exports to main customer China are again growing, raising public anger over illegal mining.
Residents and politicians in the east coast bauxite mining region are calling for a total export ban of the aluminum raw material, but industry figures and analysts say shipments are likely to continue.
Malaysia halted bauxite mining in January last year, but allowed exports to continue to deplete vast stockpiles at ports where run-off after monsoon rains had polluted waters and led to a public outcry.
But 18 months later, the stockpiles are the same size as they were at the start of the ban, even as Malaysia has exported more than 9 million tonnes of bauxite to China, according to Chinese import data.
“For the last six months, we’ve received reports from residents about the presence of fresh excavations… That is why the volumes of the stockpiles do not go down,” said Fuziah Salleh, the member of parliament for Kuantan. “We will still be contaminated with the dust and erosion of stockpiles into the water.”
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