Rare earth export policy needed to boost domestic industry, says Chang

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Chang Li Kang (in Red) at the Gopeng STEM carnival.

GOPENG: The decision to set an export policy for rare earth elements (REE) is fully supported by the Science, Technical and Innovation Ministry.

Its minister Chang Li Kang said such a policy would help boost domestic industry in the country.

"This is not something new. Take Indonesia who banned their nickel exportation. By processing the material domestically, we can develop our own downstream industry," he said.

Chang said this when speaking to reporters after officiating the Gopeng Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics carnival at RTC Perak here on Saturday (Sept 23).

On Sept 12, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the Federal Government would develop the policy to avoid any REE exploitation, losing resources as well as securing a maximum return for the country.

On May 24, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad said from February until April, a total of 4,477.039 tonnes of REC were exported to China from the state.

In August, Indonesia had stepped up its defence of its nickel ore export curbs the European Union had protested against, asserting its right to enhance value addition, boost its economy, and create job opportunities by climbing the value chain.

Indonesia’s "down-streaming" policy mandated that all the raw nickel extracted in the country must be processed domestically, enabling higher value-added export revenues and spurring the growth of the mineral smelting industry.

Nickel smelting facilities had sprouted in Indonesia in recent years, and many were built by investors from China, the world’s largest auto exporter and EV battery maker today.

There are 15 nickel smelters today, from just a few several years ago, and Indonesia holds nearly a quarter of the global reserves of nickel.

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