Malaysia has imposed a temporary three-month ban on bauxite mining in its Pahang state, Malaysian media reported.
It said the ban was announced by Environment and Natural Resources Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar at a media conference in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
The ban aims to stop all mining activities until environmental and legal safeguards are put in place to regulate an industry that has ramped up extraction work on the eastern peninsula by 700 per cent since 2013, exporting more than 20 million tonnes to meet Chinese demand for aluminium in 2015, The Malaysian Insider news site reported.
Bauxite mining in Pahang has been blamed for turning rivers red and killing hundreds of fish in water contaminated by aluminium ore in Kuantan, the state capital, after two days of heavy rain in the first week of January flooded Kuantan port, where the bauxite was being stored for export.
Locals residents have complained of severe air pollution from bauxite dust, impacting their health.