Perak's rare earth venture must not compromise health, safety, environment, says Sultan Nazrin

IPOH: Non-radioactive rare earth element (NR-REE) extraction is among the new revenue sources the Perak state government is focusing on to increase its revenues, says Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah (oic).

The Sultan of Perak, however, cautioned that the health, safety and environmental factors, including the long-term benefit for the state and its people, must be prioritised and cannot be compromised.

“It is estimated that 1,687,500 tonnes of NR-REE can be found in Perak.

“It is one of the more important minerals of the present and the future due to its extensive use in many high tech industries such as healthcare and defence,” he said during his opening speech at the Perak state assembly sitting at the state secretariat building here Wednesday (Aug 25).

Sultan Nazrin said a pioneer project to mine NR-REE on 213.8ha of land has started.

"The government has been cautious not to be too hasty in granting licences for large-scale mining of the NR-REE.

“We must heed the lessons of the past as attested by the lingering decimation of Perak’s landscapes wrought by tin mining, rendering grievous harm to the state and Perakians," he said.

The Perak Ruler also said that the state should not be content with being mere producers of raw materials.

“The raw materials should be complemented with downstream activities so that the returns have added value and will prompt the creation of high-level job opportunities for the locals.

"Mentri Besar Incorporated has taken steps to explore all avenues in establishing collaborations between scientists and experts to undertake research on this newly discovered mineral NR-REE, while the State Development Corporation has pioneered efforts to develop the midstream and downstream industries," he added.

Sultan Nazrin also said the state must give attention to threats to food security.

“The World Food Programme has warned that 41 million people in 43 countries are threatened with the risk of starvation, rising from a figure of 27 million in 2019.

“The increase in prices of essential food items in addition to climate change and economic issues worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic has raised the risk of starvation," he said.

"The agriculture, livestock and fishing sectors need to be very proactive and productive in increasing their yield by incorporating new working cultures and using more modern methods and mechanisms,” he added.

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