‘Same rare earth claims made in 2019’

ALOR SETAR: The state government’s intention to exploit rare earth elements (REE) is still at the preliminary stage, with no mining activity carried out so far.

Mentri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor (pic) said the approval given to a Kuala Lumpur-based company was to carry out exploration work in Sik.

He said the process would involve checking the composition of mineral deposits in the area.

He added that the findings, still at their early stages, would involve various related departments and agencies.

“The state government sees this as another source of income for Kedah.

“We have to explore it first, but of course, it will be through the correct process and technologies, ” he said.

On Thursday, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah said there would be no operational mining scheme approvals for non-radioactive REE until the standard operating procedure (SOP) and rules were followed.

He said his ministry was the agency responsible for ensuring mining activities, and management of natural resources were conducted sustainably.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) voiced its concern over the Kedah government’s intention. Its president Meenakshi Raman said according to media reports, Sanusi had said the REE, found in Sik, Ulu Muda and Baling, were not radioactive.

Meenakshi said similar claims were also made last year by the former Water, Land and Natural Resources minister over a deal between a China company – Chinalco GXNF Rare Earth Development – and the Perak government, for the exploration of rare earth minerals.

The ministry, in response to SAM then, claimed the Chinese company had the expertise to identify potential rare-earth sources in Perak, especially in ion-adsorption deposits, that did not contain thorium or uranium as by-products.

“SAM believes the Kedah venture could be similar to that being undertaken in Perak.

“We call on the mentri besar to confirm this and as to whether the venture involves the same Chinese company.

“Our concerns are not allayed by the Kedah MB or the Federal Government that the venture does not involve radioactive elements, ” Meenakshi said in a statement on Thursday.

Sanusi said they would look into the SOP and regulations in relation to the project, adding that it would be brought up for discussion with the National Mineral Council that would be reactivated by the Federal Government.

He earlier announced that the state had mineral deposits estimated to be worth RM43 trillion, and a company based in Kuala Lumpur was given a permit last week to carry out exploration work in Sik.

His office clarified later that the correct figure for the rare earth deposits was RM62bil.

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