KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 — The Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Ministry (NRECC) will hold discussions with state governments next week regarding the establishment of a framework for rare earth element (REE) extraction in the country.
Its minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the discussions would focus on processing that needs to be done domestically, as well as potential areas that could be explored without disrupting permanent forest reserve ecosystems.
He said 80 per cent of areas that may contain REEs and non-radioactive REEs are located outside permanent forest reserves.
“We request that, if possible, these areas be prioritised over permanent forest reserves. It is true we can engage in sustainable mining and other practices, but we want this matter to be refined first.
“We are concerned that if it is not properly monitored, it will harm our forest, which is one of the oldest in the world, and it will take a long time to recover,” he said when winding up the debate on the 12th Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review for his ministry at the Dewan Negara today.
Nik Nazmi said there are REE products that may require foreign expertise to be processed, but priority will be given to domestic processing.
He said REEs are used in the production of various products and technologies, including electric vehicles, turbines and windmills for renewable energy production, as well as telephones.