Study on lanthanide processing only possible after extraction from earth, says Perak MB amid environmental and safety concerns

·3-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

IPOH, July 19 — The Perak government is weighing the possibilities of processing lanthanides mined in Gerik if Putrajaya approves the rare earths mining project in Gerik, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad said today.

He added that the state government can only carry out the study on lanthanide processing once the material has been extracted.

"This is a pilot project and we have not get any material from it yet. Only after getting the material we can decide whether it can be process here or sent to abroad just as we did with the tin ore," he told the state legislative assembly in its sitting here.

Saarani related that when tin ore was discovered in Perak previously, the material had to be exported to another country for processing because the government lacked the required technology back then.

He said the situation resulted in not only lost job opportunities for Malaysians, but also lost revenue.

"Now there are some suggestions about why don’t we process the material here instead of sending it abroad since the country has advanced in technology and has skilled and specialist workers,” he said.

Saarani said a thorough study is required before the state decides on whether or not to proceed with the proposals, adding that considerations will include benefits in terms of revenue, job opportunities and environmental health and safety aspects.

The MB, who is also Kota Tampan assemblyman, was replying Pasir Panjang assemblyman Yahaya Mat Nor from Amanah who wanted to know the status of the proposed rare earths mining project.

Saarani also pointed out that the non-radioactive rare earths element (NRREE) involving lanthanide is a new resource to the state government.

"This NRREE material was found during the Pakatan Harapan government when Datuk Dr Xavier Jayakumar was the water, land and natural resources minister.

"He brought a group from the ministry and also some people from the technical department in Perak to China to find out how to extract the lanthanide. We have seen Dr Xavier drinking the water from the dam where the material was extracted showing that it is safe.

"This is why the government is confident to be involved in this project. Therefore, even if the government changes in the next general election, there is no need to stop this project if it gets the approval as it was previously worked by the PH government,” Saarani said.

He added that the NRREE project obtained an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approval from the Department of Environment on May 11.

Subsequently, the Department of Minerals and Geosciences Malaysia granted a Mining Operation Scheme Approval Letter for the project on May 27.

"However, there is also need for some other approvals such as as planning permission, Social Impact Assessment, Environmental Management Plan, and Erosion Sediment Control Plan in order to actually start the work.

"The project will only be implemented after all approvals have been obtained,” Saarani said.

Asked about the building of structures in the area before approvals have been granted, Saarani reiterated that satellite images taken of the area were of past preliminary works undertaken for tin ore mining, such as the construction of roads and pond catchments.

He said they were built long before he became Perak MB.

"The company did not get any approval or standard operating procedures from the authorities. Therefore we have ordered it to stop and ask them to do mitigation works.

"They have to cover the land that was cleared and exposed and plant trees that can grow fast. No other works allowed at the area for now,” he said.

Saarani also reiterated that lanthanides are not a radioactive material and have been confirmed safe by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.

"Furthermore, the project is located inside the land owned by State Agriculture Department Corporation and not within the permanent forest reserve are.

"The project is also not located in the Central Forest Spine and anywhere near rank 1 environmentally sensitive area. This has been confirmed by Perak Land and Mines Department,” he said.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting