No applications to mine rare-earth metals in Sarawak yet

Datu Len Talif Salleh - file pic

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, July 20: Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datuk Len Talif Salleh says as far as he knows, there has been no applications to mine rare-earth metals in Sarawak.

“Personally, I am not aware of any such discussion in the cabinet.

“I am also not aware of any applications for permits or licenses for the mining of rare-earth metals in Sarawak,” Len told DayakDaily today.

He was responding to questions if there is any rare-earth metals to be found in Sarawak and whether the Sarawak government has already issued permits or licenses for the mining of the mineral to take place.

Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Dr Xavier Jayakumar in replying to a question raised in Parliament recently, informed that the government has been looking to develop the rare-earth mining industry following the discovering of the mineral in several states including Sarawak.

Among other places in other states, Dr Xavier named Simunjan and Sematan in Sarawak to be the places found to have rare-earth metals.

He said the ministry is studying the policies and mineral legislation to develop rare earth resource by utilising the best and most suitable mining practices.

Before Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over the government, the coalition was against the operation of Lynas (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and was constantly making calls on the shutting down of rare-earth processing plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.

Since the operation of the processing plant in 2011, the company has been facing objections from environmentalists and local residents who cited radiation poisoning and contamination of local water supply.

The biggest problem faced by Lynas is the disposal of industrial waste. In December, 2018, the company was given the choice of removing its 450,000 tonnes of waste or have its licence revoked.

In May 30 this year, however, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Lynas was allowed to continue its operation in Malaysia.

Rare earth metal are an essential raw material for making components of electronic products from high-tech items to defence systems. — DayakDaily