PETALING JAYA: The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability (NRES) is working on initiatives focused on sustainable green mining practices in a bid to harness the economic potential of geological resources and safeguard Malaysia’s natural legacy.

Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the NRES is also in the process of establishing the National Geological Disaster Centre (PBGN), the National Geological Disaster Management Plan, the pioneering Non-Radioactive Rare Earth Element (NR-REE) project in Labis, and is aspiring to increase the number of national geoparks and existing Unesco Geoparks.

“As Malaysia commemorates World Geologist Day 2024, NRES takes centre stage, announcing a series of groundbreaking initiatives aimed at empowering communities through geology-focused development, in alignment with this year’s theme emphasising economic prosperity and heritage preservation,” he said in his message in conjunction with the celebration of World Geologist Day 2024 themed “Geology: Generating Economy, Celebrating Heritage for the Well-being of the People”.

He stated that the National Geopark Development Plan 2021-2023, the National Geopark Implementation Plan, standrad operaring procedure for NR-REE mining, landslide warning system related to geological disasters, and decisions made during the second National Mineral Council meeting are among the aspirations previously achieved by NRES.

“In our country, since the early 1900s, geologists have contributed to the nation’s development through the exploration of tin ore resources in the Klang River Valley,” said Nik Nazmi.

“Besides exploration and extraction of mineral resources, oil and gas, geologists in our country have played a significant role in infrastructure development, clean water supply, reducing geological disaster risks, environmental engineering, climate change adaptation, geopreservation, geotourism, education, and communication,” he added.

Nik Nazmi said geologists also study the structure and layers of the earth to determine the existence of oil and gas resources in the ocean depths, which generate abundant revenue for the people, up to the study of earthquake events involving oceanic crusts and continental plates.

He remarked that the role of geologists has largely shifted towards applied geoscience where their contributions have evolved with the era of globalisation and geopolitical volatility, rapid digital technology advancements, climate change, and the transition to renewable energy, posing challenges to them.

“The discovery of new national wealth resources, namely NR-REE, with a significant quantity, and the recognition of the national geopark at the international level as a Unesco Global Geopark, are also the results of contributions, research, and initiatives of our country’s geologists,” he said.

The Malaysian Geological Institute (LAGM), established in 2015, is an institution under the management of the Minister of NRES to oversee geological practices while enhancing the professionalism of this field.

Recently, NRES launched the Strategic Plan of the Malaysian Geological Institute 2023-2040 as an effort to improve the quality of geological services in line with current needs and challenges.

Nik Nazmi said the LAGM Strategic Plan 2023-2040 is a holistic document detailing LAGM’s strategic planning, including objectives, focus areas, and action plans in addressing current needs and facing future challenges, while meeting the requirements of stakeholders and clients.

“Until now, LAGM has registered 3,023 geologists. NRES hopes this number will continue to increase, in line with the growing demand for professional geological services and the development of the national geoscience industry,” he added.

Meanwhile, the second National Mineral Council meeting held on May 8, 2023, decided that the qualification requirements for the provision and certification of mineral exploration and exploration reports are only allowed for Registered Professional Geologists, Registered Foreign Geologists, Registered Practitioners, or Engineers with Practice Certification.

Nik Nazmi said this decision was endorsed by the prime minister, who chaired the 80th National Land Council meeting held on Sept 12, 2023.

“Malaysia is among the countries where its geologists are recognised as professionals. However, at the same time, not many countries recognise geologists as a specialised or professional field. Among the countries that recognise geologists as professionals through their parliamentary acts are the United States, Canada, Italy, Spain, Japan, and Taiwan,” he added.