KUALA LUMPUR: The government is looking to develop the rare earth mining industry following the discovery of such minerals in several states including Sarawak.
Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said a survey showed potential deposits were found in Tanah Merah and Jeli in Kelantan; Baling and Kulim in Kedah, Kati, Trong and Grik in Perak; Muar in Johor as well as Simunjan and Sematan in Sarawak.
"This areas have the potential to be a mineral source containing rare earth elements and the potential to be developed.
“The ministry is studying the policies and mineral legislation to develop this rare earth resource, utilising the best and most sustainable mining practices,” he said when answering a question raised by Datuk Seri Dr Edmund Santhara (PH-Segamat) during Minister's Question Time in Parliament on Thursday (July 18).
Dr Xavier said the industry could generate up to RM100bil over the next decade to the nation’s
However, he acknowledged that there were worries as raised by Datuk Dr Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh (PAS-Pasir Puteh) on the effects of mining rare earth following the bauxite issue affecting Pahang.
He said the government had learned from the lessons from the bauxite mining problems and had banned the export of the raw mineral.
"We will no longer allow the export of the raw mineral. We will only allow it if the mineral is mined and processed into ore," he said.
Dr Xavier informed the House that the country's mineral reserves were worth RM732bil.
This, he added, included 1.3 million tonnes of tin reserves worth RM83.6bil in Pahang, Kedah, Perak, Johor, Selangor, Kelantan and Terengganu.
Pahang, Kelantan, Johor, Terengganu, Perak, Melaka, Kedah and Negri Sembilan also had iron ore worth around RM57.8bil with an estimated reserve of 498.6 million tonnes.
Other minerals, he said, included bauxite (RM15.6bil at 169.8 million tonnes), copper (RM9.04bil/5.85 million tonnes), nickel (RM1.7bil/75 million tonnes), manganese (RM500mil/5.7 million tonnes) and gold (RM9.9bil).