Govt urged to allow limestone quarries to operate as drinking water supply at risk


PETALING JAYA: Lime and lime extraction industry players are calling on the government to issue clearer instructions and standard operating procedure (SOP) for the sector as any delay could affect many essential services, including the nation’s drinking water supply.

The Chemical Industries Council of Malaysia (CICM) said limestone quarries should be allowed to operate fully so that the lime industry can continue to produce calcium hydroxide and calcium oxide, which are used in the production of Malaysia’s clean drinking water and wastewater treatment.

“At present, supply of raw materials for the lime industry is only allowed from existing and already fast-depleting stockpiles from quarries. The industry is already contemplating shutting down plant operations since raw materials may not be available soon,” the industry said in a statement on Monday (July 12).

It added that untreated water could cause an outbreak of other diseases such as cholera.

CICM said lime producers will take three to four weeks to restart after any shutdown and the process could likely produce large amounts of waste.

The process could also cause them to incur extra costs and cause many of those working in the industry to lose their jobs.

The closure of lime production quarries could also have a snowball effect on the essential industries they serve as they too might have to close for many weeks due to the lack of supply of lime.

CICM said while the SOP for Phases One and Two of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) published by the National Security Council indicated that quarry activities could resume, the condition is further subjected to SOP set by the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry for the mining and quarrying sectors.

“The revised SOP for the mining and quarrying sectors was only released on July 9 but is specific for Phase Two of the NRP only.

“In view of this, limestone quarries for states still under Phase One of the NRP have yet to restart their operations,” CICM said.

It added that the entire lime production industry should be allowed to operate and called for clear and practical SOPs to be promptly issued.

It said the lime and lime extraction industry takes all appropriate steps to operate safely in adherence to SOP and it expects a swift response from the government because essential sectors are affected by the depleting supply of lime.

“CICM strongly urges the government to urgently and immediately grant approval to all limestone quarries and lime producers to continue to operate fully and enable all the essential industries and services to operate and maintain supply to the general public,” it said.

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