IPOH, September 28 — Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad today rejected Pasir Pinji assemblyman Howard Lee’s claim that the state government did not engage the Opposition over the lanthanide mining project in Gerik.
Saarani said an engagement session on the project was held online at the end of last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“He (Lee) said there is no engagement, which is a big lie. When the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources held the online meeting, all 59 state assemblymen were invited to attend.
“The meeting was on the project’s standard operating procedures (SOP). So, please stop inciting people over the lanthanide project,” he said during a press conference at the closing ceremony of the Perak Sejahtera 2030 Debate challenge held at the State Secretariat building.
Saarani also insisted that talks on mining the mineral had started when Pakatan Harapan was still governing the state.
“During that time, Lee was a state executive council member and was aware of the project.
“After becoming mentri besar, I just continued the process, and it is strange that the Opposition are now making all sorts of accusations. We can have different views and ideologies, but inciting and telling lies is not acceptable,” he said.
Saarani also reiterated that the government went through the necessary procedures in order to get clearance to mine the mineral, which he said was not radioactive.
He also explained that the method to mine lanthanide was not the dredging used to tin.
“For this project we are using modern methods. We drill a hole, put in aluminium sulphate for a reaction to take place, and extract the lanthanide. We can assure that no trees will be felled,” he said.
The government would have halted the project if the mineral was indeed radioactive, he insisted
“I was a former chemistry and physics teacher before, and I know for a fact that lanthanide is not radioactive.
“Perak needs an additional source of income to help the people and bring progress. If we don’t take on the project, others will,” he stressed.
Yesterday, during a roadshow in Kampung Manjoi, Lee said the public was worried over project due to what happened in Bukit Merah, Menglembu, in the 1980s.
Lee also accused the government of keeping the project secret and not heeding public opinion on the matter.