KUANTAN: DURIAN farmer Che Long Che Ali was left puzzled when he spotted two excavators entering a bauxite mining site located less than 100m from his house at Kampung Jeram in Beserah.
The 64-year-old was surprised to hear that the machines was clearing the bauxite stockpiles from a mining site, located atop a hill, and when he demanded for an authorisation letter from the authorities, the mining workers could not provide him with any proof.
Che Long said as far as he was concerned, bauxite mining activities had been temporarily halted since Jan 15 last year due to land and water pollution, and now a mining company has come forward claiming it had received the green light to carry out mining works.
“The excavators passed by my house on Monday and when I demanded for a permit, they could not provide me with any proof. I’m not sure what the mining operators are up to.
“We suffered for four years and they (miners) have already damaged our land, roads and farms.
“The moratorium gave residents some peace and allowed us to breathe fresh air, but now the return of mining works is going to give us a nightmare. No representatives from the Land and Mines Department (PTG), or state government were present to brief us on the latest development,” he said yesterday.
Nin Chin Wan, 64, said people living in the area had been experiencing the side effects caused by the mining activities before the moratorium.
“The roads leading to our farms are damaged and covered with potholes, the rivers are polluted but they are not as murky as before.
“The excavator drivers claimed they were here to remove stockpiles but we noticed some freshly dug pits,” Nin said, adding that the presence of a mining company could prompt others to follow suit.
While Beserah assemblyman Andansura Rabu, villagers and members of the media were touring the mining site yesterday, a representative from the mining company approached them.
Identifying himself as one of the company’s supervisors, the man said his company had obtained approval from PTG to remove the bauxite stockpiles through a letter dated Dec 20, last year, and is now doing the necessary work.
“Our company has been granted permission to clear the stockpiles on three plots of land but we need to adhere to the standard operating procedures, which include preparing the washing bay, operate only licensed lorries and royalty payment.
“Before lorries can enter the site, we need to clear a road. That is why we brought the excavators,” he said, adding that the management would meet villagers soon to provide proof that works were conducted legally.
Andansura, who was perplexed by the explanation provided by the supervisor, said he was not sure why the work to remove the stockpiles was only done more than a year after the moratorium was imposed.
He said everyone was in the dark over the latest development and how mining was again allegedly approved for the site.
“The authorities should be monitoring such activities, especially after the mining pond drowning incident on Feb 4.
“There are no signboards or notices put up to inform villages about the activities,” he said, adding that PTG should step in to clear the air.