Malaysia said that bauxite miners must conduct a separate study on the environmental impact of the site before re-acquiring a license to start operations, and the ban on bauxite mining will expire on March 31.
The timing of the environmental impact assessment (EIAs) has not yet been determined, but the Resources Department said on Wednesday that each company will take at least six months to complete.
Malaysia's bauxite export restart schedule is less than expected, which will drag down global supply and may boost prices.
The department stated that mine operators need to meet stringent requirements, some of which will be based on the results of environmental impact assessments before they can obtain operational licenses.
Resource Minister Xavier Jayakumar said at a meeting that “even if the suspension of bauxite mining and export expires at the end of this month, it does not mean that mining activities can begin immediately on April 1.”
This Southeast Asian country was once China's largest supplier of bauxite, and its shipments peaked at around 3.5 million tons a month by the end of 2015.
However, all bauxite mining was banned in early 2016, as unregulated mining and unsecured stocks in the eastern state of Pahang contaminated water, roads, rivers and reddened coastal waters.
In February, Xavier announced that due to strong demand for bauxite, the government will not extend the suspension period for the ban on mining.
He also said at the time that restoring mining would be subject to more stringent regulations, including the use of certain types of trucks to transport minerals. Mineral producers are also prohibited from exporting unprocessed or unwashed bauxite.