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KUCHING, Nov 14: Saratok Member of Parliament (MP) Ali Biju lauded the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s announcement on Sarawak’s mining initiatives to allow the State to take up the mining and safe commercial exploitation of Non-radioactive Rare Earth Elements (NR-REE).
According to Ali, who is also the Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, in a media statement today, NR-REE comes under the purview of his Ministry, and at the Federal level, the ministry is in the midst of crafting policies, guidelines and regulatory legislation on how this valuable national asset can best be exploited for the national coffer.
“The Chief Minister mentioned that “to ensure more rigorous mining activities, we need to create the right ecosystem to drive exploration and attract quality investments in the mining industry”.
“This is precisely the way forward for Sarawak and I fully support the Chief Minister’s vision,” he said.
Ali noted, the Chief Minister also mentioned that the State will, “strengthen [its] mining policy and regulatory framework [including] the strengthening of State Minerals Management Authority and relevant agencies involved in the mining sector”.
He said for the state of Sarawak, under the Mineral Ordinance 2004, Chapter 56, the interpretation of minerals only states mineral ore which means ‘any mineral of economic interest from which one or more valuable constituents may profitably be recovered by treatment’, NR-REE is not stated specifically and clearly.
For example, he explained, a private company has been issued a state license to mine clay and they then find NR-REE in the clay, there should be clear legislation to clarify that the company is mining NR-REE, not just clay, as the commercial value is in the NR-REE, not the clay, and the royalties would be vastly different.
“Therefore, the Sarawak government needs to review and possibly amend the existing legislation to enable NR-REE mining activities to be carried out safely and systematically with no loopholes for privateers to profit at the expense of the State while simultaneously protecting our environment,” he added.
At the same time, Ali agreed that the Chief Minister was also squarely on the mark when he mentioned that the “mining sector would require comprehensive minerals data and mapping”.
At the moment, he continued, the Jabatan Mineral dan Geosains Malaysia Sarawak is at the preliminary stage of investigating the presence of NR-REE in the State and its findings have been very promising.
“I was very happy to note that the State will invest in the mapping process and will develop geological mapping for all onshore and offshore minerals. This will greatly aid and enhance JMG Malaysia Sarawak’s efforts in surveying and studying not only NR-REE but all other minerals’ potential in Sarawak.
“Finally, I fully support the Chief Minister’s statement that the State will, “design business models to intensify downstream activities with private sector participation, especially attracting global giants as anchor companies to spur more business activities”, as FDI and foreign technological expertise are often the best catalysts for the development of a new industry,” he said. –DayakDaily.