Home New Writers Seek public views for 220-hectare non-radioactive rare-earth element project

Seek public views for 220-hectare non-radioactive rare-earth element project

Inclusive, effective and constructive public participation should be conducted because of the project's far-reaching implications

Rare earth mining - FILE PHOTO

Follow us on our Malay and English WhatsApp, Telegram, Instagram, Tiktok and Youtube channels.

By Sheila Ramalingam

The Pahang state government has given its approval for 220 hectares in Sungai Wang at Hulu Jelai in Lipis to be developed into a pioneer non-radioactive rare-earth element mining project.

A state government meeting reportedly approved the project on 3 April. Once the proposal is finalised, it will be submitted to the state authorities.

This project may potentially have adverse effects not only on nearby local communities but also on the surrounding environment and biodiversity.

Hopefully, the project proponent will also submit an environmental impact assessment for review by the Department of Environment.

Section 34A of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 (EQA) mandates an environmental impact assessment for certain prescribed activities. These activities are listed under the first and second schedules of the Environmental Quality (Prescribed Activities) (Environmental Impact Assessment) Order 2015.

An impact assessment of prescribed activities that fall under the first schedule of the 2015 order requires no public participation. The assessment report has to be submitted to the Department of Environment’s state office for approval.

An impact assessment of prescribed activities that fall under the second schedule of the 2015 order requires mandatory public participation. The report has to be submitted to the Department of Environment’s headquarters for approval by the director general of environmental quality.

Item 8(a) of the first schedule to the 2015 order lists “ore processing outside mineral tenement area including concentration of aluminium, copper, gold, iron, tantalum or rare earth element” as a prescribed activity.

Meanwhile, item 8 of the second schedule to the 2015 order lists (a) mining of minerals in new areas involving large-scale operation, and (b) mining of minerals within, near or adjacent to environmentally sensitive areas as prescribed activities.

READ MORE:  Penang Hill cable cars: Wrong to approve environmental assessment without public participation

Clearly, the non-radioactive rare-earth element project is a prescribed activity under the EQA. So, an impact assessment report must be submitted to the relevant Department of Environment for a thorough review.

Before doing so, it is incumbent for the project proponent to determine, among others:

  • whether the proposed identified mining area is an environmentally sensitive area
  • that there is scientific evidence that the rare earth elements proposed to be mined are non-radioactive, and
  • the potential adverse environmental effects on local communities and biodiversity in the affected and surrounding area

Inclusive, effective and constructive public participation should be conducted (regardless of whether the project falls under the first or second schedule of the order), as the potential effects of the project could have far-reaching implications that may last beyond our lifetime into the next generation.

Hopefully, the relevant authorities will give due and proper consideration to all the scientific, developmental and environmental data before this project begins.

Dr Sheila Ramalingam is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law at the University of Malaya.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
Support our work by making a donation. Tap to download the QR code below and scan this QR code from Gallery by using TnG e-wallet or most banking apps:
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Most Read

0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x