Oil palm industry may get a boost


TAWAU: The state government will look at further incentivising the oil palm industry for its economic potentials to be fully unleashed.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Raymond Tan said the industry, while already well-established in the upstream (plantation) sector, required to break new grounds in the downstream sector involving value adding on crude palm oil and biomass.

“Rewarding risk takers, recognising pioneers and industry leaders who dare to thread where others won’t are some of the things my ministry (of industrial development) will think about,” he said after visiting Malaysia’s first pilot plant for producing bio ethanol from empty fruit branches (EFB).

The plant belongs to the Teck Guan Group.

The visit was made on the sideline of 4th Palmex Malaysia and Conference on New Opportunities in Biomass Downstream here from June 11 to 13.

Teck Guan’s chief executive Datuk Hong Ngit Ming briefed the minister and his entourage on the company’s ambition in tapping the future potential of bio ethanol as a material for high value biochemicals which “will not be for a number more years”.

Tan, who is also Minister of Industrial Development, also heard how Sabah cocoa planters led the country in new approaches to increasing yield and control pests, but missed out on optimising on its position as Malaysia’s top cocoa producer because the industry did not go downstream.

He commended Teck Guan for its enthusiasm and industry leadership in resource optimisation not only in extracting bio ethanol from EFB, but also trapping methane gas from its mill effluent to produce energy to power its mills and fire its sizable brick factory.

He was taken on a tour of the brick factory which used to be fired by burning palm kernel shells.

The resultant acidic smoke resulted in corrosion, a costly maintenance issue which was eliminated by switching to firing with energy from processed methane.

“I am aware that many oil palm mills are producing their own power requirements, but the Teck Guan example shows there is much, much more that can be done with oil palm biomass and waste materials.

“The value adding on biomass makes good business because it makes money, creates jobs and protects the environment,” he added.

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