KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -- The Malaysian government said it would not extend its moratorium on bauxite mining which ends on March 31 due to strong demand for the industry, state news agency Bernama reported on Monday, quoting the water, land and natural resources minister.
Malaysia was once the biggest supplier of bauxite to top buyer China, with shipments peaking at nearly 3.5 million tonnes a month at the end of 2015. Bauxite is mainly used as an ingredient in the production of aluminium.
But unregulated mining and run-offs from unsecured stockpiles in the eastern state of Pahang contaminated water sources, turning roads, rivers and coastal waters red.
This led to a ban on all bauxite mining activity since early 2016.
"The moratorium will not be extended after March 31 ... I see that there is a strong demand for the bauxite industry in Pahang and the profit derived by the state is also enormous," Xavier Jayakumar said.
Jayakumar also added that while bauxite mining and export activities could be resumed, it would be done with new standard operating procedures and tighter law enforcements.