Prioritise local SMEs over rare earths mining, Perak told

Kat questioned whether the Chinese company wil set up a plant in Perak to process the minerals akin to Lynas.. — Reuters pic
Kat questioned whether the Chinese company wil set up a plant in Perak to process the minerals akin to Lynas.. — Reuters pic

IPOH, Nov 28 — MCA Ipoh Timur vice chairman Kat W. Wong today said the Perak government should focus on reviving the local economy and small businesses instead of venturing into rare earths mining.

She said that after 18 months in power, the state government should have a blueprint for revitalising the Perak economy.

“It is shocking and appalling that the state government has gone so far to disregard the environmental impact and health concerns of the people of Perak by pursuing an exploration project for rare earth in the state.

“All this was done in the name of generating revenue yet nothing much has been done to spur the economy after 18 months of taking over the state government,” she said in a statement.

Kat said the state has not learnt its lesson from Asian Rare Earth (ARE) disaster or noted the people’s distaste towards the rare earth industry.

“The explanation by the state government following a statement by Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is nothing but lame and irresponsible.

“If it’s merely an exploration and mapping of the location of the mineral, why was it not commissioned to the Geology Department instead, which has the expertise and knowledge of mapping the mineral deposits in the state?” she said.

Yesterday, Perak Mentri Besar Incorporated (MBI) chief executive officer Anuar Zainal Abidin acknowledged concerns about the Bukit Merah disaster but argued that this should not prevent the state from exploring the potentially lucrative rare-earths mining.

Anuar said memorandum of understanding between the state and the Chinese firm is only to explore whether the mining activity is completely safe to be undertaken

Kat also said the state should disclose the details of the MOU and the extent of the exploration work by the Chinese company, Chinalco GXNF Rare Earth Development, including the business arrangement for the exploration project. 

“People are clueless about the exact location of the exploration and was there an environmental impact study conducted? What are the results and what is the impact on radiation level that is claimed by the deputy health minister to be ‘safe’?

“The state is talking about potential revenue in this matter. Are they planning to mine, sell and export the rare earth? Or will the Chinese company set up a plant in Perak to process the minerals akin to Lynas?” she asked.

She also questioned the credibility of the Chinese firm singled out as the partner for Perak MBI.

Kat also thanked SAM for raising awareness on this matter and urged all concerned citizens of Malaysia, especially Perak residents to come forward and seek answers from the state and also their respective elected representatives.

“They owe us an explanation,” she said.

Yesterday, SAM criticised the Perak government for signing the MOU with Chinese company to explore the possibility of mining rare earth minerals in Perak claiming that the mining activities could endanger the lives of residents.

Its president Meenakshi Raman argued that waste from the mining will remain radioactive for billions of years and poses high risks already to the people of Perak.

Related Articles