KUALA LUMPUR: The Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change (NRECC) will hold discussions with state governments next week regarding the establishment of a framework for rare earth element (REE) extraction in the country.

Its Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (pix) said the discussions would focus on the processing aspects that need to be done in the country, as well as the potential areas that could be explored without disrupting the permanent forest reserve ecosystem.

He said that 80 per cent of areas that may contain REEs and non-radioactive rare earth elements are located outside of permanent forest reserves.

“Therefore, we request that, if possible, these areas be prioritised over the permanent forest reserves. It is true that we can engage in sustainable mining and other practices, but we want this matter to be refined first.

“We are concerned that if it is not properly monitored, it will harm our forest, which is one of the oldest in the world, and it will take a long time to recover,” he said when winding up the debate on the motion of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) Mid-Term Review (MTR) for his ministry at the Dewan Negara here today.

Nik Nazmi said that there are REE products that may require foreign expertise in order to be processed, but priority would be given to conducting any processing work domestically.

He said REEs are used in the production of various products and technologies, including electric vehicles, turbines and windmills for renewable energy production, and telephones. -Bernama

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