Next month, Malaysia will lift a three-year ban on bauxite mining, a minister said. The mining of bauxite took off in Malaysia due to strong Chinese demand after neighboring Indonesia banned exports in 2014. Authorities imposed a ban after complaints that pits across the bauxite-rich central state of Pahang were blighting the landscape, rivers were being stained red by mining run-off, and there was a rise in respiratory problems and skin rashes. In addition, critics said most of the mining was illegal, and done amateurishly with no government oversight.

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Xavier Jayakumar said the new government, which took power last year, has decided not to extend a moratorium, which ends on March 31.

“Industry players can resume mining by April, but they must adhere to strict mining conditions,” Jayakumar told AFP, adding the move was to allow Pahang to earn crucial extra revenue.