SAM calls on DOE to reject proposed Hulu Perak in-situ lanthanide mining project


IPOH: Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) has called on the Environment Department (DOE) to reject a proposed lanthanide mining project at Kenering in Hulu Perak.

A SAM spokesman said such mining activity, which involved in-situ leaching, could lead to serious environmental degradation and destruction.

The spokesman said in-situ leaching involves the injection of mining chemical solutions into the ground to flush out the intended mineral to be further processed.

“This method was first used in the US in the 1950s where most of the projects have caused numerous spills and contamination of groundwater sources.

“It is uncommon and is relatively new to Malaysia, and requires greater scrutiny.

“Any uncontrolled accidental release of reactant, such as sulphuric acid, during set-up and operations could have catastrophic consequences for communities downstream,” the spokesman said in a statement Friday (Aug 13), adding that the project was located upstream of Sungai Rui, a tributary of Sungai Perak.

“Any degradation of the surface water or groundwater resulting from the proposed mining operation could affect the whole or a very large portion of these watersheds and their ecosystems.

“It is a major concern if the rivers are contaminated, as these are important water sources for the local communities at nearby settlements from Kampung Pong and Kampung Orang Asli Bukit Asu who also fish and carry out recreational activities there,” the spokesman added.

The spokesman said SAM had learned about the proposed mining project from a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment that was displayed online for public feedback since July 7.

“The project site spans a 2,162ha area and is located in the Central Forest Spine (CFS) range, which has been classified as an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) Rank 1.

“To avoid significant disturbance and damage to the surrounding environment, only controlled activities like low-impact nature tourism, research and educational activities are allowed within ESA Rank 1 areas. Mining cannot be considered a low-impact activity,” the spokesman said.

“The CFS must be totally protected and it is indeed shocking that such mining activity is being conceived in a very environmentally sensitive area as it will also exacerbate negative impacts to the diverse wildlife which inhabits the proposed site.

“Based on the EIA, endangered, vulnerable, and nearly threatened species like the Malayan tiger, panthers, elephants, tapirs, sun bears, and wild boar are found at the proposed site area,” the spokesman said, adding that 194 species of birds that have been listed as totally protected and 11 other bird species listed as protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act716) could be affected if the project was allowed to be carried out.

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