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Malaysia Smelting looks at expanding mining ops

Thursday, 22 August 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Smelting Corp Bhd (MSC), the world’s second largest tin metal producer, is looking at expanding its mining operations in Malaysia and worldwide, with the focus on three minerals namely tin, tungsten and titanium, said its group chief operating officer (mining) Mohamed Yakub Ismail.

He said: “For these new mining investments, the MSC Group is interested to set up joint ventures particularly with the global tin mining players for projects in Malaysia.”

Currently, MSC is working closely with Perak, Pahang, Trengganu, Kedah and Johor state governments to explore and evaluate the mineral deposits in the mineral-rich Eastern and Western Belts of Peninsular Malaysia to gauge whether “it is economically viable to start large-scale mining,” he said.

“The potential tin reserves in the two belts are estimated at 900,000 tonnes which is worth about US$18bil based on the current tin price of about US$20,000 per tonne,” Yakub said at the final day of the Asian Mining and Energy Investment or AMEI Forum 2013 jointly organised by two Australia-based ICAsia and Vertical Event, the Malaysian Chamber of Mines and the Department of Minerals and GeoScience.

Yakub is also positive on the tin mining making a comeback to Malaysia but cautioned that “the trend will be large-scale hard rock underground mining that will be capital intensive and need to be balanced with higher grade deposits instead of the previous alluvial tin surface mining method.”

For large-scale commercial mining to be a success, he said there was a need for state governments to allocate larger area for exploration ranging from 2,000 to 50,000ha as well as provide a larger area for mining permits to the prospective mining investors or companies.

On the global front, Yakub said MSC was also gearing up to become the world’s largest tin metal producer. Currently, China based Yunnan Tin tops with over 60,000 tonnes in annual production followed by MSC at 37,792 tonnes.

As for tin prices, he expects tin to climb back to US$30,000 per tonne in the near term future from the current US$21,000 per tonne given lack of new tin mines, supply shortfall from major global producers and higher costs to set up new mines.

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