Malaysia once again extended the ban on bauxite mining for another three months until March 2017 in order to clear stockpiles of the aluminum-making ingredient, Reuters and Metal Bulletin reported Dec. 22, citing the country's Natural Resources and Environment minister, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
Jaafar said the nearly 2.95 million tonnes of stockpiles around the Kuantan port in the state of Pahang indicates that there has been illegal mining going on, otherwise there would be "no heap" of bauxite since the ban was first imposed in January for three months and has been extended multiple times since.
According to Reuters, about 3.6 million tonnes of stocks were at Kuantan in April, while a June report by Metal Bulletin put the figure at about 5.4 million tonnes.
The ban was introduced after public complaints about the industry's contribution to water contamination and environmental damage, driven by a lack of regulation over bauxite mining.
Jaafar said the companies that are mining illegally could be granted permits in the future from the state government.
Malaysia exported 5.3 million tonnes of bauxite during the ban period, compared to 20 million tonnes shipped to China between January 2015 and November 2015.