[ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, POLICY & STRATEGY]
“SAND MINING ACTIVITIES IN MALAYSIA: Revamp Unsustainable Practice “
26th June 2010
The issues raised in the recent sand-mining activities in Selangor(“Selangor loses RM100mil yearly to illegal sand mining“-The Star, June 25,2010), Pahang, Perak (“Unchecked sand mining a hazard to environment, says geologist”-The Star, June 26, 2010), Johore(“Land Office oblivious to illegal sand-mining activities in Sepang“-The Star, June 17, 2010 and “Sand mining unchecked”, The Star, 24 June 2010) and elsewhere in other parts of Malaysia calls for an urgent revamp in the current sand mining approval and implementation process.
It is time for both Federal and State government to co-operate and undertake a serious examination of environmental integrity in the respective States where sand mining is being performed.
Sand mining is an activity within the States’ competence as provided for by the Federal. However, if such activities severely affects the general environmental well-being in any State -and Malaysia for that matter-such activities must be made to comply with the general provisions delineated under the Environmental Quality Act 1974(P.U.(A) 362/87) and the supporting Environmental Quality(Prescribed Activities) (Environmental Impact Assessment) Order 1987. According to the schedule of the Environmental Quality(Prescribed Activities)(Environmental Impact Assessment)Order 1987, mining is a prescribed activities where an Environmental Impact AssessmentReport is required.
(a) Mining of minerals in new areas where the mining lease covers a total area in excess of 250 hectares.
(b) Ore processing, including concentrating for aluminium, copper, gold or tantalum.
(c) Sand dredging involving an area of 50 hectares or more.
Sand mining licenses/approval permit, etc issued by the Selangor Land and Mines Department therefore must comply with the general environmental provisions provided in the above 1974 Act and the 1987 Order.
Contrary to the claims made by the respective State Land and Mines Departments, it is not clear what are the attached conditions as stated in the approved sand mining licenses/permit. If these stated conditions do not comply with the general provisions of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 and the specific environmental impact assessment requirement of the Environmental Quality(Prescribed Activities)(Environmental Impact Assessment) Order 1987, the Selangor State government must take immediate action to revamp current methodology in the approval process and perform a total review of the attached environmental sand-mining conditions.
Even if the sand-mining conditions as per the license/permits are followed, they may not comply with the underlying environmental protection provisions of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 and the objectives of the Environmental Impact Assessment requirement of the Environmental Quality(Prescribed Activities)(Environmental Impact Assessment) Order 1987 if the sand mining activities in question have been identified to be the main cause of continual environmental destruction–notwithstanding actions taken by the Selangor Land and Mines Department–as highlighted in the recent report conducted by the Audit Department(“Heavy Toll on the Environment” NST 21 June 2010 at page 12).
Environmental protection is a joint effort involving all relevant stakeholders. Efforts pertaining to the prevention, abatement, control of pollution and enhancement of the environment in Malaysia require both macro and micro environmental approaches in order to achieve real goals within the global environmental sustainability (GES) matrix.
Jeong Chun Phuoc
And an advocate in Strategic Environmental Intelligence(SEI)
He can be reached at Jeongphu@yahoo.com