Residents’ group claims RM4b Perak ore hub ‘recipe for disaster’
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23 — A residents’ group in Perak opposing the RM4 billion iron ore hub being built by the state’s biggest investor said yesterday the project may hurt the environment and the interests of the state and its citizens.
The Coalition of Concerned Citizens of Perak (CCCP) said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir has given Vale, the world’s leading iron ore miner, a “free hand” in the project “and that is a recipe for disaster.”
“We believe this project could be heading for a disaster if proper controls are not put in place. Besides the environmental impact, there is also a cloud of worry and despair hanging over us should this project proceed unchecked,” CCCP chief Zainal Abidin Osman said.
Zainal said in a press statement that contracts worth millions of ringgit were handed out without a tender process, adding this only benefited foreign companies as state-linked firms were not directly involved in the transhipment hub.
“Why did Perak give exclusive rights to Vale to construct a RM700 million jetty when it is considered a legal landing point and should remain in the hands of the government as a national asset?
“The lackadaisical attitude of the state government under MB Zambry is worrying because he has not put any in place any safety net for the people,” he said.
Ports in Malaysia are viewed as key assets and it is standard practice that either the state of federal government will hold a golden share.
It has been reported that Dutch firm Royal BAM and Australia’s McConnell Dowell secured a RM677 million deal along with local contractor See Yong & Son to build a jetty in Teluk Rubiah.
This is the second billion-ringgit project in Malaysia that has faced resistance from locals this year, after Kuantan residents effectively forced the delay of Australian miner Lynas Corp’s RM1.5 billion rare earth plant there citing fears of radiation pollution.
Lynas had initially aimed to have the refinery operational by the third quarter of this year but Putrajaya adopted 11 additional requirements in July following popular protests. These have yet to be met.
Brazil’s Vale is spending RM4 billion in the first phase of the project, which will handle 30 million tonnes of iron ore yearly once completed in 2014.
Zambry had said in February the hub will be able to accommodate Chinamax carriers, which are 400,000-tonne iron ore vessels that will cut freight costs for Vale.
Perak lies along the Malacca Strait, a global shipping lane that transports 30 per cent of China’s iron ore imports and 80 per cent of its oil shipments.