PUTRAJAYA, Dec 3 -- The Energy and Natural Resources Ministry is preparing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for mining non-radioactive rare earth elements (NR-REE) to ensure sustainable mining, said Minister Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah.
The SOP covers the entire mineral value chain from mining to waste management and progressive closure of mines, as well as supported by relevant legislation, namely the Mineral Development Act 1994, Geological Survey Act 1974, Environmental Quality Act 1974 and State Mineral Enactment, he said.
He said the ministry would hold a consultation session with all stakeholders such as the state government, Federal agencies, non-governmental organisations and industry representatives to finalise the relevant NR-REE SOP.
“This is to ensure environmental sustainability, occupational safety and health as well as the well-being of the community around the mining area,” he said in a statement today.
Based on a study by the Mineral and Geoscience Department (JMG) under the 11th Malaysia Plan, the country’s mineral resources are estimated to be worth RM4.11 trillion which includes metallic minerals, non-metallic minerals and energy minerals.
From the estimate, Shamsul Anuar said NR-REE resources in Malaysia amounted to 15.188 million metric tonnes with a value of around RM741 billion (US$182 billion), and most are found in Kedah, Perak, Terengganu, Kelantan, Pahang, Johor.
“Detailed studies will be continued in the 12th Malaysia Plan for more accurate mapping of NR-REE reserve quantities,” he said, adding that several state governments had shown interest and took the initiative to explore the NR-REE development potential.
Shamsul Anuar said full compliance with the SOP is a key condition before starting any NR-REE mining which is controlled through the Operational Mining Scheme (OMS) by JMG.
Apart from the enforcement that will be carried out by the state JMG, the state Forestry Department also plays a role in ensuring that no NR-REE mining is carried out without technical approval and no mining activities are carried out in permanent forest reserves, he said.
“This can also prevent pollution incidents that can affect the environment and public health,” he said.
He said although the issuance of permits for mineral exploration was under the authority of the state government, screening and vetting processes should be carried out to ensure that all conditions are complied with before approval is granted.
Shamsul Anuar said the ministry has also developed the framework of the National Mineral Industry Transformation Plan 2021-2030 which will be a guide to ensure the development of the mineral industry is no longer focused on mining activities at the upstream level alone.
“The industry needs to grow up to mineral processing activities, adding value or producing mineral-based products which include the middle and downstream levels,” he said.
To support the country’s mineral industry to continue to grow, Shamsul Anuar said the government had also agreed to reactivate the National Mineral Council (MMN) as the highest platform involving the Federal and state governments, its role in considering policy coordination and key issues related to the development of the mineral industry.
The first MMN meeting is expected to be held towards the end of December, he said.
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