KUALA LUMPUR: The future of rare earth industry in Malaysia was clearly exhibited to the more than 150 stakeholders, industry experts and media practitioners at the recent Malaysian Global Business Forum Roundtable: The Future of Rare Earth Industries roundtable discussion held here recently.
The participants agreed that the development of rare earth supply chain will certainly take decades to make its way up to a successful growth in the industry.
This multi-billion dollar opportunity is an attainable objective if there is a clear vision driven by industry leaders with the financial capacity to take advantage of the global market.
The Director of the Department of Mineral and Geoscience Malaysia, Jontih Enggihon said, “We are keen to develop the rare earth minerals for Malaysia as the analysis from the lab result seems positive”. He agreed that Malaysia needs a rare earth policy as he said “Rare earth is synthetic minerals where it is ideal to export certain potion of it for Malaysian downstream activities”.
It is clear that rare earth metals are a collection from 17 chemical elements in the periodic table such as Scandium, Yttrium and the fifteen lanthanides. Their unique magnetic, luminescent, and electrochemical properties help make many technologies perform by reduced weight, emissions and energy consumption.
Rare earth also allow for greater efficiency, performance, miniaturisation, speed, durability and thermal stability.
The mining and quarrying sector resides under the purview of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE). The Government established a National Mineral Council (NMC) in 1998 to oversee the overall integrated development of the mineral industry and to assure such development would meet its policy objectives. The National Mineral Council is also charged with coordinating relations between the Federal and State Governments.
According to Executive Director of Tindakan Strategi Sdn Bhd, Mr Rizal Kamaruzzaman said, ‘Minerals policy is not only mining on these minerals but also include the industry components – how we are going to process it, how we’re going to manage waste, comprehensive policy of mineral production and management, battery production can only happen with rare earth elements”
Malaysia currently has a lead in the race to become the global rare earth production center as Lynas Malaysia plant in Gebeng, Kuantan, Pahang, currently processes 20% of global rare earth.