IPOH, May 25 — Perak Department of Mineral and Geoscience (JMG) director Datuk Ahmad Zukni Ahmad Khalil said the rare earth project identified as lanthanide in Hulu Perak is a non-radioactive rare earth element (NRREE).
Ahmad Zukni said that the rare earth element mineral which will be mined in Hulu Perak is basically an ionic adsorption clay which does not contain any harmful radioactive material.
“Yes, rare earth elements (REE) from minerals contain radioactive elements.
“However, the mineral from REE that will be mined in Hulu Perak is a type of ion adsorption clay (granite rock weathering). The ionic adsorption clay is basically a NRREE,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.
Ahmad Zukni said this in response to Sahabat Alam Malaysia’s (SAM) statement today in which its president Meenakshi Raman said that the Department of Environment (DoE) had rejected the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the mining project initially due to concerns over its radioactive content.
Meenakshi said that the EIA report has already revealed the presence of thorium in the soil sample tested.
“Already, the naturally occurring radioactive Thorium (Th-228) of the soil sample from the land owned by Perbadanan Pembangunan Pertanian Negeri Perak (PPPNP)/land parcel PT1764 is reported to be above the regulated 1 Bq/g.
“Any uncontrolled accidental release of reactants (eg, sulfuric acid) during set-up and operations could have catastrophic consequences,” she said.
Meenakshi said that the project will also affect the water source and contaminate the rivers surrounding the project area.
She also pointed out that the mining project is located in the highly environmentally sensitive area of the Central Forest Spine (CFS) range, which has been classified as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) Rank 1.
“Approving such mining activity in an ESA Rank 1 ecosystem is most outrageous, and in violation of the federal government’s own planning policy and can in no way be viewed as a sustainable activity.
“In particular, the proposed activity has a high risk of increasing the concentration of ammonium and thorium, which is a radioactive substance in the existing environment,” she said.
On May 23, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad said that a rare earth project identified as lanthanide in Hulu Perak is expected to boost state revenue.
He said the state government had received approval from the DoE through the EIA report last week, to implement the pilot project.
Saarani said the new resource is expected to be better than tin ore and could be used in technologies such as telephones, watches and electrical goods.