KL's ban on exports of sea sand took effect last year

Malaysia's Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Xavier Jeyakumar dismissed claims that the sea sand export ban was targeted at Singapore's reclamation works.
Malaysia's Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Xavier Jeyakumar dismissed claims that the sea sand export ban was targeted at Singapore's reclamation works.PHOTO: REUTERS

Minister says move not linked to reclamation works in S'pore but for environmental reason

Malaysia banned sea sand exports due to environmental concerns after the new government took office last year, said Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Xavier Jeyakumar yesterday.

He said the ban was not linked to Singapore's reclamation works.

"When we took over the government, we decided the sea sand will not be exported to any country," said Mr Xavier, speaking on the sidelines of a Parliament session.

"It is not just to Singapore. We have stopped exporting to other countries," he said. But exports of river sand will continue, including to Singapore, he said.

Sea sand is used mostly for land reclamation, while river sand is a core component in construction materials like cement. Reports claim Kuala Lumpur is concerned that Singapore has expanded by a quarter in size since Independence.

But Mr Xavier dismissed suggestions that the ban was targeted at Singapore's reclamation works.

He said: "There is nothing to do with that. Singapore can always buy sand from other countries... Silica is exported to Singapore because there is a demand for silica sand."

Silica sand is often used as a raw material for industrial items such as glass, chemicals and plastics.

Malaysia exports roughly two million tonnes of river sand to countries such as Singapore, China, India, Mauritius and Brunei, he said.

Sea sand, however, has been limited to domestic usage.

Singapore's Ministry of National Development said the country has multiple sources of sand and is reducing its reliance on sand. A spokesman said: "Sand is imported on a commercial basis from various countries to ensure resilience in our sand supply. Suppliers are expected to abide by the laws and regulations of the source country."

These regulations can range from sourcing sand from legally permissible areas, to complying with environmental protection laws and possessing the relevant export permits and documentation.

Singapore has been encouraging its industries to reduce the reliance on sand, the ministry added.

"Most recently, we piloted a polder development in Pulau Tekong, which reduces the volume of sand needed as compared to traditional reclamation. The Government will continue to work with industry players to explore new and innovative means to reduce our reliance on sand," it said.

• Additional reporting by Rachel Au-Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2019, with the headline 'KL's ban on exports of sea sand took effect last year'. Print Edition | Subscribe