KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 — The standard operating procedure (SOP) for rare earth elements (REE) mining is expected to be enforced this year, says Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.
A Minerals Industry Development Coordination Committee meeting will be held on October 2 to discuss matters related to the proposed expansion of the SOP throughout the country.
“The REE SOP has been approved at the Cabinet level and has already been brought to the National Mineral Council, I was given the responsibility of chairing a technical committee meeting with the relevant state government council members.
“One part of the SOP focuses on the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change (NRECC) and the Department of Minerals and Geoscience Malaysia while another part is for us to ensure how to develop at the intermediate and downstream levels and this involves the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry as well as other related ministries,” he said.
Nik Nazmi was speaking to the press after the Madani Economic Narrative Programme and the NRECC Budget 2024 Dialogue, earlier today.
Yesterday, the minister was reported to have said the Cabinet had approved the SOP related to the Mineral Policy including REE, to ensure the exploitation of the mineral products remains sustainable.
Commenting on the ban on the export of rare earth raw materials to prevent exploitation and loss of resources announced by the Prime Minister on Monday, Nik Nazmi said although the amount of raw rare earth exported legally before this was small, the value was very high.
The high value of the minerals prompted the government to study methods of processing the rare earth raw materials so that Malaysia could benefit from higher profits.
Meanwhile, the use of nuclear energy as a form of renewable energy for the country is still being discussed, considering its complexity involving safety and health aspects.
“Currently our policy is still not to use nuclear energy, but we are aware that talking about energy transition and net zero emissions by 2050, we cannot rule out nuclear as an option. However, it needs careful and in-depth studies.
“In the past many institutions had done research on nuclear because it is not as easy as saying yes today, and begin implementing it tomorrow. It involves the United Nations, the United States government and so on, it takes a long time.
“We have the expertise, and we have Malaysians with degrees in the nuclear field who today are doing work that has nothing to do with their expertise,” he said.
On Budget 2024, Nik Nazmi said among the matters focused on were energy transition, climate change and biodiversity conservation.
“The second aspect is improving the standard of living of the people and raising the ceiling, which has also been mentioned to the Ministry of Finance, and we are waiting for the time to sit down with the Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Finance, to finalise it,” he said.