Malaysian state revokes bauxite mining licences over pollution concerns

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - A state in eastern peninsular Malaysia said it has revoked the mineral ore licences (MOL) of 34 contractors to curb rampant bauxite mining in the area, due to concerns over rising pollution from the activity.

Only 11 operators with permission to mine, transport and export the mineral would now be allowed to operate in the state of Pahang from Aug 1, state news agency Bernama reported on Sunday.

The state government took the step after contractors ignored multiple warnings on rampant pollution. Local residents have complained of red dust from bauxite mines contaminating the villages when lorries transport the mineral ore to the port.

Bauxite mines have sprung up in Malaysia since late last year, notably in Pahang's state capital of Kuantan, a district along the east coast facing the South China Sea.

The mines have been shipping increasing amounts of bauxite for aluminium production to China, filling in a gap as Indonesia banned ore exports in January last year to encourage value-added processing at home.

Malaysia supplied 1.27 million tonnes of bauxite to China in the first nine months of last year, 12 times more than the 105,000 tonnes shipped in the same period for 2013.

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