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PUTRAJAYA: The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability (NRES) will continue working with the state governments to curb illegal mining activities.

Its Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said that investigations are still underway to ensure whether there is any production of rare earth materials at the site of Compartment 411, Ulu Jelai Forest Reserve in Lipis.

He also clarified that his statement on Monday, issued during the Dewan Rakyat sitting, was concerning illegal mining activities in the forest reserve in Lipis district.

“Compartment 411, Ulu Jelai Forest Reserve in Lipis has been identified as an illegal mining site in March 2023.

“This is because the investigation results found that the discovery of tools and laboratory items used showed that the area is for rare earth elements (REE) mining,” he said in a statement today.

During the Dewan Rakyat sitting on Monday, Nik Nazmi, when replying to a question from Lee Chuan How (PH-Ipoh Timur), said that about 16,000 tonnes of rare earth oxides were illegally mined in several states in Malaysia and exported to China.

Nik Nazmi reportedly said that the illegal mining was carried out in the forest reserve in Sik, Kedah; Lipis, Pahang; Pengkalan Hulu and Kuala Kangsar, Perak; as well as on privately owned land in Meranti and Jelebu districts, Negeri Sembilan.

Yesterday, Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail strongly denied claims that there was illegal production of rare earth oxides in the forest reserve in Lipis district.

“Here, I would like to express my appreciation to the Pahang government which established the Pahang Enforcement Unit (UPNP) elite team in 2019 to curb illegal land encroachment activities including mining activities from becoming rampant,” Nik Nazmi said. - Bernama