IPOH: The state government has received almost RM16mil in royalty payments from the export of rare earth carbonate (REC) to China, says Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad (pic).
He said the operation of the non-radioactive rare earth elements (N-RREE) pilot project on 87.4ha (216 acres) in Kenering, Hulu Perak generated the royalties after the tenth export of the REC.
Saarani added that the pilot project has also proved that rare earth is not radioactive and extraction through "in-situ reaching" is the best method, and did not pollute the environment.
"Following the success of this project, the state government intends to continue mining on the entire area that received the Environmental Impact Assessment approval, which is a total area of 2,160.6ha (5,339acres)," he said at the state assembly sitting here on Tuesday (Sept 26).
He was answering questions posed by Mohamad Fakhrudin Abdul Aziz (PN-Kamunting), Cheah Pou Hian (PH-Jelapang), and Nga Kor Ming (PH-Kepayang).
Mohamad Fakhrudin had asked if the state government planned to open new NREE mining sites, and if studies had been carried out on the effects of such mining on trees, and the water quality near the mining area.
Nga had questioned the proactive steps taken by the state government to ensure the operation of N-RREE did not affect the environment, but at the same time increased revenue for the state.
Cheah wanted to know if the state government had plans to carry out land clearing before any development to ensure valuable minerals did not go to waste.
Saarani added Perak was blessed with mineral resources such as NREE, which is able to provide good income to the state.
He said according to a study carried out by the Perak Minerals and Geoscience Department (JMG), it was estimated that the NREE deposit in Perak was 1,687,500 tonnes valued at RM46.5bil.
"One of the six agendas outlined in the Perak Sejahtera Plan 2030 is to carry out responsible mining.
"This means that the state government will strive to increase revenue through the mining sector but at the same time will not ignore environmental sustainability," he added.
Saarani said the evaluation for the opening of new areas for NREE mining in Perak depends on an independent body through the Audit Committee formed for the purpose of monitoring the implementation of the pilot NRREE project.
He said in order to ensure that this activity did not cause damage to the environment, mining operation was allowed after all approvals have been obtained.
Saarani then added that on the impact of mining on trees, a special meeting conducted by the Natural Resources, Environmental, and Climate Change ministry together with the department (JMG) decided that the lease holders involved need to carry out a study of the growth of trees and land fertility at the pilot project site and submit a report to the ministry before any mining was carried out.
In May this year, Saarani had said that the royalty received from the first exportation of REC to China was RM1.66mil.
He said the royalty was on the 296.2 tonnes of REC sent in February.