AluNews - January 2016

Ghana seeks investors for Iron ore and bauxite mining Official

News Ghana - January 26th, 2016

These investors, according to him would also be expected to lead in the development of the entire value chain for these mineral resources.

The official said this while throwing light on the potential for the mining industry in the country at the ongoing International training for journalists on the natural resources sector by the Natural Resources Governance Institute(NRGI) here.

Ahadzi said just as for the entire continent, only between 10 percent and 20 percent of Ghana's entire mineral resources have been discovered and currently being exploited.

"These minerals (Iron ore and bauxite) have already been discovered and are in huge deposits which are commercially viable, so all we need is investors who are ready to mine and help develop the entire value chain," Ahadzi disclosed.

At Sheini, near Tamale, 616 km north of the capital, in the Northern Region alone, the official confirmed that there is a proven reserve of 1.27 billion metric tones of iron ore, while at Oppon Manso, in the Western Region, 150 million metric tones, Pudo in the Upper West Region, five million metric tones

The Oppon Manso iron ore reserves were discovered by the Ghana Geological Survey in 1963 located on 15 hills over 24km strike . The Geological Survey reported a mineralized estimate to 10m depth, of approximately 150 million long tons with an iron content between 43-56 percent Fe.

Ahadzi said there are also reserves of iron ore in Akpafu, 234 km north-east of the capital which also needs more geological work to establish. According to him this particular ore deposit might be easier to find since the locals had used it in the past in making pots and farming tools.

He said the 200 million metric tones of iron ore deposits in Kibi, 92 km north of the capital can however not be developed at the moment since it occupies a forest reserve and the source of the Birim Riverwhich is the main source of treated water for the capital.

The official said the investors in the iron ore mining would be expected to provide the leadership in converting the iron ore into steel for use by local steel companies which now depend on scrap to manufacture their products and then export the rest.

"Beside the iron ore deposits, we also have 700 million metric tones of bauxite at Nyirahin, near Kumasi, 218 km north of the capital, beside the Prestea Mauxite mines," Ahadzi disclosed.

The government's new policy for the use of bauxite is to stop the export of raw bauxite and ensure that the ore is processed into alumina, for use by local aluminum companies.

He said due to the high energy consumption in the bauxite-aluminum industry, prospective bauxite miners in the country would be expected to provide their own means of electricity for the development of theentire value chain.

The Volta Aluminum Company (VALCO), is the largest aluminum company in Ghana, founded by Kaiser in 1961 but now wholly owned by the government of Ghana, with the smelter capacity of 200,000 metric tons peryear of ingots'

After its shut-down in 2007 the company has since 2011 been producing 3000 tons per month, mostly for local consumption, with plans to activate a second pot-line to bring monthly production up to 6000 tonswith the expectation that local bauxite development would inure to the benefit of such local smelters.

Head of External Relations and Communications at the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Ahmed Nantogmah urged government to showcase these industrial mineral reserves to industry players across the world, in order toattract investments.

Interacting with participants at the NRGI training for selected journalists, Natongma explained that the mining firms in the country are mostly in for gold mining, and so there was the need to seek mining firms which would be interested in the development of the industrial metals.

Sohar Aluminium's output at 377,186 tonnes in 2015

Muscatdaily - January 24th, 2016

Muscat - The collective output of primary aluminium by the five GCC producers - Emirates Global Aluminium in UAE, Alba in Bahrain, Ma'aden Aluminium in Saudi Arabia, Qatalum in Qatar and Sohar Aluminium in Oman stood at 5.27mn tonnes in 2015. This was seven per cent higher than in 2014.

This was seven per cent higher than in 2014.

Sohar Aluminium's total production in 2015 stood at 377,186 tonnes.

"Record GCC output reflects the continuous improvements in efficiency and optimisation of resources," said Mahmood AlDaylami, secretary general of the Gulf Aluminium Council.

GCC aluminium production constitutes ten per cent of total global output and is considered one of the key economic drivers for the Gulf region, a press release said on Sunday.

Nearly 40 per cent of the total production is utilised by the downstream aluminium industries in the Gulf, while the remaining 60 per cent is exported to different parts of the world.

GCC remains one of the leading regions for aluminium production with higher environmental standards compared to the rest of the world.

Sohar Aluminium is jointly owned by Oman Oil Co, Abu Dhabi National Energy Co and Rio Tinto.

Gramercy's Noranda alumina plant could close; 444 jobs at stake

NOLA.com - January 20th, 2016

A foreign tax dispute and sagging commodity prices could lead a St. James Parish manufacturing plant to close, leading to the loss of 444 jobs.

Noranda ships bauxite that it mines in Jamaica to its plant in Gramercy, where alumina is extracted. That material then goes to the company's smelter facility in Missouri and is turned into aluminum.

Noranda is attempting to reach an agreement with the Jamaican government over the production fee the company pays the country for exporting bauxite. A previous deal expired at the end of 2014, and the parties have been in arbitration since then trying to reach new terms.

John Parker, Noranda's vice president for investor relations, said Jamaica is seeking fees that established in its original production agreement with the company, which he likened to the hotel rate structure posted on the back of every hotel room. A separate pact between the two reached in 2010 set a lower production levy for Noranda, based largely on the market value of bauxite. Jamaica is seeking a rate closer to the original terms, he said.

"We want a sustainable operation, which includes a sustainable economic structure with the government of Jamaica," Parker said.

The commodity price for aluminum has fallen nearly 50 percent over the past five years, dropping from $1.20 per pound in 2011 to the 60-cent range where it has languished for the past few months.

In addition to mining bauxite for its own needs, Noranda also provides the material to third parties. Its largest customer, Sherwin Alumina Co. in Corpus Christi, Texas, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, leading to a lapse in demand.

Noranda has also shut down two of its three pot lines in Missouri to account for the decline in aluminum production, requiring 190 layoffs.

Parker said the company is seeking new bauxite customers to replace Sherwin's demand, as well as new alumna customers to increase production in Gramercy. Should market conditions change and favorable terms are reached in Jamaica, the shutdown of Noranda's facilities could be temporary, he said.

Malaysia bauxite ban after mining surge

BBC News - January 20th, 2016

Malaysia's government has imposed a three-month freeze on the extraction and export of bauxite, the ore used to make aluminium, after a dramatic surge in mining in the east coast state of Pahang.

Over the past two years the amount of bauxite shipped from Malaysia to China increased almost one hundred fold, after Indonesia imposed a ban on exports. But the boom has taken a heavy toll on the local environment.

South East Asia Correspondent Jonathan Head reports from Kuantan.

Rio Tinto's production increases despite low prices

The Observer. - January 19th, 2016

WHILE the global aluminium market is struggling with low prices, Rio Tinto's Queensland bauxite, alumina and aluminium operations have all increased production in 2015.

When announcing the company's fourth quarter results, Rio chief executive Sam Walsh said Rio Tinto remained focused on operating and commercial excellence against the industry's "challenging market backdrop".

"In 2015, we delivered efficient production, meeting our targets across all of our major products, while rigorously controlling our cost base," he said.

"We will continue to focus on disciplined management of costs and capital to maximise cash flow generation throughout 2016."

Alumina production from the company's QAL and Yarwun plants in 2015 totalled 6.61 million tonnes, an increase of 355,000 tonnes from the 2014 total of 6.256 million tonnes.

The QAL plant produced 3.747 million tonnes, up from the 2014 total of 3.568 million tonnes, and the Yarwun plant produced 2.864 million tonnes, up from the previous year's 2.688 million tonnes.

Total global production of alumina including the company's alumina plants in Brazil and Canada in 2015 was 11.837 million tonnes. The 2014 total was 1.212 million tonnes, but that included the company's Gove plant in the Northern territory which was closed down in May 2014.

Rio's Boyne Smelter produced 579,000 tonnes in 2015, an increase from the 2014 total of 553,000 tonnes.

The company's Australian smelters, in Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania, produced a total of 1.349 million tonnes, while the global total for Rio was 4.898 million.

A total of 43.7 million tonnes of bauxite was produced during 2015, a four per cent increase on 2014, with record production from the company's Weipa mine and a ramp-up of the Gove mine, which has now reached production and export capacity of eight million tonnes per annum of dry bauxite.

Bauxite mining should be totally banned

The Star - January 18th, 2016

WITH the commencement of the three-month moratorium on bauxite mining in Pahang on Jan 15, a massive joint clean-up operation has begun. Hopefully, this costly undertaking will soon clear the affected areas of the obnoxious red earth that has enveloped the entire landscape.

The dire consequences of bauxite mining in Bukit Goh and the surrounding areas in Kuantan have brought to the fore the plight of the people living there. The enormity of the dangers faced by the villagers near the mining areas and the stockpiles is real.

Results of independent assessments by various concerned groups and the indepth survey by investigative journalists all pointed to an impending environmental disaster. This was made public as early as 2014. The alarm bells should have been heard then and the mining activities should have been discontinued.

The mining operations have affected the livelihood of the kampung dwellers, Felda settlers, petty traders, fishermen and farmers in many ways.

Besides the pollution that affected their health and the environment, their earnings have also been considerably reduced, leaving them to face a future of uncertainty.

Of immediate concern is the predicament of owners of land in Felda settlements in Bukit Goh who have leased their land or are being harassed by unscrupulous businessmen with tempting offers to part with their property. Many of them have been short-changed.

The majority of the settlers are now in a quandary because their land will be left with huge craters and would be unsuitable for oil palm or any other form of cultivation. There will be nothing left but desolation and despair.

Many residents have openly lamented that mining activities in Kampung Beserah have robbed them of their durian plantations too. With that, the D145 variety that's noted for its taste and thick flesh may soon disappear.

The overwhelming evidence of impending destruction to the environment and adverse effects to public health of bauxite mining cannot be taken lightly.

The Federal Government should now seriously consider banning bauxite mining in Pahang once and for all.

Bauxite job cuts: Noranda to slash 190 positions

Ajamaica Gleaners - January 15th, 2016

Noranda Aluminum Holding Corporation has announced it will be moving ahead with job cuts as it grapples with several challenges including the insistence of the Jamaican Government to collect the full bauxite levy.

A press release issued by the company's head office in Tennessee, United States says 190 jobs will be cut.

The release it did not specify how many of these jobs would be cut from its St Ann plant in Jamaica, although it said there would be cuts here.

It said the challenges necessitating the job cuts include the idling of two pot lines at New Madrid, Missouri, an unfavourable arbitration panel ruling regarding the bauxite production levy in Jamaica, and the bankruptcy filing by our principal third party bauxite customer.

It says while the announced actions are difficult, they are a necessary response to the company's current challenges as it proactively pursues other measures to reduce costs in the upstream business.

Tasmanian bauxite mine suspends production after first shipment stalls

ABC News - January 14th, 2016

A new bauxite mine at Campbell Town in northern Tasmania has gone into care and maintenance after it failed to secure a buyer for its first shipment.

Australian Bauxite began mining at Bald Hill early last year, in what is understood to be the country's first new bauxite quarry in 35 years.

The company started mining about 12 months ago, employing about 30 people.

In November, the company announced a deal with Mumbai-based marketing company Rawmin Alliance to purchase 4.7 million tonnes over the next five years.

But Australian Bauxite CEO Ian Levy said it was still unclear when the first shipment would be locked in.

"The customers in China are just unable to purchase the bauxite at this time," he said.

"Expressions of interest we've got are from China, India, the Middle East and even from Australia, The dates they're all talking about are after Chinese New Year.

"People are saying once the market stabilises, we'll talk to you again."

A 40,000 tonne shipment of bauxite is sitting at Bell Bay Port, ready for export.

There is also another half shipment waiting at the mine.

Mr Levy said the situation was out of the company's control.

"There is a considerable amount of uncertainty in the bauxite market right now," he said.

"The Malaysian Government has just shut down exports of their bauxite for three months.

"In my 40 years in mining, this is the only time something like this has happened. It is extremely frustrating.

"We may have short-term hiccups, we may have some battles over the next few months but it's worth the effort."

Production return date unknown

Mr Levy said the uncertainty had affected work at the mine.

"Production will naturally have to slow down," he said.

"We will continue to do routine rehabilitation work, as and when it's needed.

"We will try to get back into production as quickly as we can once the market stabilises and once we start getting contracts."

In a statement, the Tasmanian Government said it had been in talks about assistance and the suspension was "regrettable".

"The Government has had ongoing discussions with Australian Bauxite in our attempts to assist but the market has proven too difficult for them to continue operations at this time," acting Resources Minister Rene Hidding said.

"The Government will continue to work with Australian Bauxite through the care and maintenance period to do what we can to assist the company and workers through this difficult period."

Alcoa Inc. has struck a $1.5 billion long-term supply contract with General Electric Inc.'s aviation unit, underscoring the aluminum producer's efforts to offset difficult conditions in its raw-aluminum business.

The Wall Street Journal - January 11th, 2016

Under the deal, New York-based Alcoa will supply advanced nickel-based superalloy, titanium and aluminum components for engines and for engine parts made by GE.

Alcoa shares rose 1% in recent premarket trading.

The announcement comes ahead of what is expected to be Alcoa's worst quarterly report since early 2014, due after the market closes Monday, including a 17% drop in revenue from a year earlier and earnings of two cents a share, according to a poll of analysts. Raw-aluminum prices have fallen over 25% to about $1,500 per ton in the past year. Details of the GE deal were in a news release viewed by The Wall Street Journal. As usual, it will be first major U.S. company to report, setting the tone during a volatile time for the stock market.

A spokesman for GE said that Alcoa was "an important player" in a "historically high-production phase," during which GE and partner companies have "a backlog of more than 15,000 commercial engines to deliver over the next several years."

Alcoa will make the parts in six U.S. states, as well as in France and Canada. Alcoa said its aerospace division secured "approximately $9 billion" in contracts during 2015. It has also signed billion-dollar-plus deals to supply Boeing Co. BA 0.05 % and Airbus Group SE.

Alcoa already had signaled plans to spin off its lucrative parts business during the second half of 2016. The spinoff, which has yet to be named, will also supply aluminum sheet to auto makers, including to Ford Motor Co. F -0.86 % for its F-150 pickup truck.

As it trumpets parts-making deals, Alcoa continues to close smelter production in high-cost areas like the U.S., Europe and Australia. Since 2007, it has closed or sold 48% of its raw-aluminum capacity.

Last Thursday, the company said it would permanently close one of the U.S.'s biggest aluminum smelters, Warrick Operations in Evansville, Ind., and curtail production at an alumina plant in Texas, eliminating 1,270 jobs. Roy Harvey, president of Alcoa's raw-aluminum division, said the assets being closed were "not competitive."

Despite U.S. car and plane makers buying more aluminum than ever, the industry appears to be no longer viable in the U.S. The number of operational raw aluminum smelters has declined to less than 10 from around 22 fifteen years ago.

Power, a key component in making aluminum, is too expensive in the U.S. relative to other countries, and shipping costs and import tariffs are so low that companies make more profit importing raw aluminum and doing the processing and cutting in the U.S.

Alcoa's strategy is to focus on making raw aluminum in places where power is cheaper, such as Iceland and Saudi Arabia

Tom Conway, vice president for the United Steelworkers union, which represents many Alcoa employees, said the situation was hurting American workers. "It sucks," he said.

The company said the closures would result in charges of $170 million to $180 million, spread over two quarters.

Breaking up is hard to do. Alcoa Inc. AA -9.13 % is learning that the hard way.

The Wall Street Journal - January 10th, 2016

The aluminum maker, which announced Sept. 28 it would split in two, saw its shares quickly jump more than 20% on the news. Investors applauded the planned separation of Alcoa's profitable, faster-growing business units from its struggling raw aluminum operations.

That rally proved fleeting. A disappointing earnings report two weeks later, continued turmoil in China and falling commodities prices have now pushed Alcoa shares toward five-year lows, some 11% below when the split was announced.

With aluminum prices near six-and-a-half-year lows and China's woes slamming market sentiment globally, Alcoa's drop shouldn't come as a surprise. There is reason to believe the selloff might be overdone, though.

Alcoa has fallen victim as a commodities play. Anything tied to tumbling energy and materials prices has been hit hard amid a broad market selloff spurred by Chinese growth concerns. But Alcoa's legacy smelting and refining businesses, which are being separated from downstream operations that supply components to the auto and aerospace industries, make up a much smaller part of Alcoa's value today.

Analysts and fund managers have estimated that although the legacy operations account for about half of Alcoa's revenue, two-thirds or more of its value is in its downstream business. In turn, some estimates of the downstream business's value are well above the combined $11 billion market capitalization.

Today's tumbling stock price therefore shows the wisdom of splitting the company in two. This will unlock the overshadowed and underappreciated manufacturing operations, perhaps leading to a revaluation. Until that happens, negative news tied to Alcoa's legacy businesses may continue to weigh on the stock.

Just last week, Alcoa said it would shutter one of the U.S.'s biggest aluminum smelters, Warrick Operations in Evansville, Ind. It also plans to idle production at an alumina-refining plant in Texas.

Wall Street analysts have recalibrated expectations accordingly, underscoring the tough times facing Alcoa. Analysts polled by FactSet estimate Alcoa will report fourth-quarter earnings of 2 cents a share. This forecast was 22 cents in June and 29 cents a year ago.

Alcoa's split can't happen fast enough.

Alcoa sees 2016 aluminium deficit, on track to hit 3yr targets

The Straits Times - January 7th, 2016

US alloys specialist Alcoa expected a 360 000 t global aluminium deficit in 2016, down from a 551 000 t surplus in 2015, driven by strong aluminium demand, smaller production increases and smelter curtailments.

The NYSE-listed company also estimated a one-million metric ton alumina deficit in 2016, from a 2.2-million metric ton surplus in 2015, owing to record global alumina demand and refinery curtailments.

The company on Wednesday reported that it had made progress towards reaching its corporate three-year targets, while work to separate the company's upstream and downstream business segments were on track for completion in the second half of 2016.

Alcoa had in 2013 set business improvement targets, which it was expecting to hit in 2016.

Its global rolled products segment was to achieve about $1-billion of revenue growth for the three-year period, with 2016 adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) per metric ton expected to come in at or above average historical highs of $344.

The engineered products and solutions (EPS) segment was forecast to hit about $3.1-billion of revenue growth between 2013 and 2016, with the adjusted EBITDA margin of about 23% next year.

The transportation and construction solutions division, a new segment formed in third quarter comprising two businesses formerly part of EPS Alcoa wheel and transportation products and Alcoa building and construction solutions and the Latin American extrusions business, forecast about $500-million revenue growth over the three-year period, with adjusted EBITDA margin of at least 15% in 2016.

Alcoa also made progress in its upstream businesses, by moving down two points on the global alumina cost curve, to the 23rd percentile in 2015, with the goal to improve the position to the 21st percentile in 2016. It was also on track to achieve its 38th percentile target on the global aluminium cost curve in 2016, from the 43rd percentile this year and expected $1.5-billion in increased margins from 2010 through to 2015, through shaped products from cast houses, by boosting output to 70% of sales estimated in 2015 on target to reach 74% in 2016.

The company also grew exports of third-party bauxite sales, on target to double shipments in 2016.

Regarding its business separation, Alcoa advised that it had established a well-defined governance structure, led by a steering committee, a separation programme office and functional teams to separate it into two standalone companies. The separation programme office was set up to ensure that all deliverables and deadlines would be met to make the separation effective in the second half of 2016.

It expected to register securities of the two firms with the US Securities and Exchange Commission by mid-2016.

3-month ban on bauxite mining in Pahang

The Straits Times - January 7th, 2016

Malaysia said it will impose a three-month ban on bauxite mining activities in Pahang from Jan 15, after an uproar over environmental degradation and contamination of rivers and the sea around state capital Kuantan.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said his ministry had stopped approving export permits for bauxite since last week and will not be issuing one again until the moratorium is lifted.

"Beginning Jan 15, everything will stand still in Kuantan," Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi told reporters at a news conference with Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob.

During the three-month period, the industry will need to clear the stockpiles of bauxite in the state along with the upgrading and installation of filtration systems and cleaning facilities.

"If the industry cannot comply (with the guidelines), we will extend the moratorium until they comply," Mr Wan Junaidi said.

The move to impose the temporary ban came about following months of loud complaints from residents around Kuantan as lorries carrying tonnes of the red bauxite contaminated roads, vehicles and homes in the area.

The lorries were transporting the product from mines in the interior to Kuantan port to be exported.

The complaints grew louder last week after heavy rain turned parts of the Kuantan seafront into a "red sea", while fish died in the rivers that had also turned red.

Demand for bauxite, which is used in aluminium production, is fuelled by heavy demand from top aluminium producer China.

The Pahang state government collected RM46.7 million (S$15 million) in bauxite royalties last year, a huge jump from RM2.4 million in 2014.

Malaysia exported more than 20 million tonnes of bauxite to China in the first 11 months of last year, Reuters reported, from just 162,000 tonnes in 2013. Indonesia banned bauxite mining in early 2014.

Pinpointing to the run-off from bauxite stockpiles at the Kuantan port that turned the seafront red in May and December last year, Mr Wan Junaidi said the focus in the first month of the ban is to clear the bauxite stockpiles at the port itself.

In the second month, the ministry expects bauxite firms to clear another 11 bauxite stockpiles identified outside the port area, while in the third month, firms will be required to fix their facilities by installing proper drainage and filtration systems.

He said the stricter conditions will be set as basic criteria for future issuance of export permits.

Datuk Seri Adnan said there are 22 legal bauxite mining operators in the state.

There are public complaints about the existence of many illegal bauxite operators who have worsened the environmental degradation.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said yesterday that it has detected elements of corruption in the bauxite mining work, but did not reveal any details.

Reacting to the government's move, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh said: "The three-month freeze is very short. I noticed he just mentioned the stockpile. To me, it is more of a reactionary measure to the 'red sea' phenomenon."

2015: A Breakthrough Record in Production

Zawya - January 06th, 2016

Alba marks all-time production record by holding a ceremony at HRH Princess Sabeeka Oasis on Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Aluminium Bahrain B.S.C . ( Alba ), one of the world's leading aluminium smelters, achieved an all-time record when its metal production surged to 960,643 metric tonnes (mt) in 2015, up by 3.1% YoY as compared to 931,427 mt in 2014.

To mark this landmark, a ceremony was held at HRH Princess Sabeeka Oasis on Wednesday, January 6, 2016.

The event was attended by Alba 's Chief Executive, Tim Murray, Chief Operations Officer, Isa Al Ansari, Chief Financial Officer, Ali Al Baqali, Chief Marketing Officer, Khalid Abdullatif, Chairman of Alba Labour Union, Ali Al Binali, Chairman of Alba Trade Union, Mohammed Ali Makki, senior Alba officials and employees.

Commenting on the Company's production record, Alba 's Chief Executive, Tim Murray said:

" Alba had another exceptional year in terms of operational and safety performance. In 2015, we were able to raise the bar despite very challenging market conditions. These results could not have been achieved without the hard work and dedication of our employees. I would like again to thank all the Alba stakeholders who contributed to this success and we look forward to go to the next level in 2016.

Halt unsustainable bauxite mining

The Star Online - January 06th, 2016

WWF-Malaysia views with grave concern the unsustainable bauxite mining activity which is ongoing in Kuantan.

We call on the Government to heed the voices of the local communities, scientists, stakeholders and the public and immediately halt all bauxite mining activities.

Demand for bauxite and economic benefits have been cited as the reason for allowing the mining but the Government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the problems resulting from unsustainable bauxite mining the environmental and social costs.

The long-term environmental and health costs due to this unsustainable practise may far outweigh the short-term economic benefit generated by this activity.

Mining and transportation of bauxite should not be viewed as two separate issues the impact of bauxite mining should be viewed holistically.

Long-term costs to human health and the ecosystem from every phase of bauxite mining, including transportation, needs to be factored in evaluating if bauxite mining can be allowed to go ahead.

Mining should not take place in environmentally sensitive areas or near populated areas in order to avoid adverse impact to sensitive ecosystems and human health. Mining need not be done unsustainably there are many examples of good mining practices to ensure mining is carried out in a sustainable manner, without such adverse impact to the ecosystem and human health.

We trust the Federal and state governments are well aware of the measures that need to be taken to safeguard public health and the ecosystem that people depend on. It is a matter of having the will to implement the measures to prevent a problem from occurring in the first place than to allow it to occur and then find solutions.

Terengganu MB Supports Decision To Temporarily Halt Bauxite Mining - Ahmad Razif

Malaysian Digest - January 02nd, 2016

KUALA NERUS - The Terengganu Government fully supports the Cabinet's drastic measure to temporarily suspend bauxite mining in Kuantan, Pahang, due to various environmental issues arising from the mining activities.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman said it was the best step taken by the government to defuse the tensions before a better mining method is found.

"Actually, there would be no problems with the mining (of bauxite) if it was done in a proper manner, and the state government is fully supportive of the Cabinet's decision.

"Terengganu itself had taken a number of measures, including not issuing any new permits for mining activities as well as tightening control in the affected areas.

"We have also sent a letter of protest to the Pahang Government to prevent vehicles from carrying bauxite to the Kemaman port," he told reporters after the Back to School programme for the Seberang Takir state constituency here, today.

Ahmad Razif said the state government was also reviewing the terms of the law to disallow the Kemaman port from exporting bauxite.

Meanwhile, on Information Technology (IT) officers who were placed in schools to regulate e-Books, Ahmad Razif said their contracts would be extended based on the performance of the officers involved.

"If they do not perform well, do not meet the requirements of the government, then their contracts would not be renewed because they have to follow the rules.

"The post is based on a yearly contract and it is the government's right to discontinue (their services) based on their performance,"

Putrajaya to temporary halt bauxite plant operation, Utusan says

Malay Mail Online - January 02nd, 2016

The Cabinet has decided that the bauxite plant in Kuantan, Pahang will be temporarily suspended due to environmental concerns.

Local broadsheet Utusan Malaysia reported that the Cabinet decision was made in a meeting last week after protests from residents towards the bauxite mining effects increased.

"The Cabinet has decided that the bauxite mining activity in Kuantan, Pahang which had raised concerns of environmental pollution and the widespread protests from residents will be temporarily halted.

"The decision which was made in a Cabinet meeting last week is accurate in nature because of the drastic changes to the environment recently including river and sea waters turning red," the newspaper reported.

Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai was quoted in a separate Utusan report as saying that his ministry was researching alternative methods to transport bauxite following the Cabinet decision.

"That's why we need to reach not just from the mining aspects but also transportation because bauxite is light and will fly making the whole area red.

"Which means not just (lorries) that carry bauxite has to be closed but also the ships because if not the bauxite can pollute the ocean," he was quoted saying by the newspaper.

Pahang's capital city of Kuantan is said to be suffering from heavy pollution caused by illegal mining operations that have mushroomed to meet high demand for the mineral.

Kuantan folk led by their parliamentary representative Fuziah Salleh have been lobbying for the state government to put a stop to all bauxite mining in their hometown, citing fears of environmental destruction and health problems.

During Parliament's session in November, Fuziah, who was among the harshest critics of the controversial Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan some five years ago, claimed that the rising demand from China for bauxite has led to numerous cases of illegal mining and traffic hazards involving lorries "racing" to the port to make as many trips as possible.

The mining activities at the same time have released heavy metal particles into Kuantan's air and water supply, which have allegedly sparked an outbreak of respiratory problems and skin disease while water treatment plants are unable to filter out the contaminants, she added.

She has also collected nearly 2,500 signatures from Kuantan's residents in support of a petition seeking Parliament's intervention to pressure the Pahang state government to suspend all export licenses to make way for a review of the relevant laws and procedures and to rehabilitate the environment.