Malaysia will extend its ban on bauxite mining by three months from middle of April as concerns over contamination continue.
The government had in January first announced a three month ban on bauxite mining in the state of Pahang over concerns about hazardous dust and pollution.
“It is important for us to safeguard the environment,” Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was quoted as saying by Malaysian news agency Bernama.
The additional three months will provide time to clear the more than 3.5 million tonnes of stockpiles, local media said.
Demand for bauxite, which is used in aluminium production, has been fuelled by heavy demand from China.
Bauxite mining took off in Malaysia shortly after Indonesia, a top producer, banned mineral ore exports in January 2014 to encourage domestic metals processing, leaving major consumers in a supply crunch.
Malaysian bauxite output more than quadrupled year-on-year in 2014 to nearly 963,000 tonnes, according to government figures.