Published: Tuesday December 20, 2011 MYT 4:00:00 PM

Rare earth could be Malaysia's new growth area

KUALA LUMPUR: To help fuel Malaysia's drive to achieve high income status by 2020, Malaysia needs to discover and venture into new economic growth areas.

And rare earth could be the country's new growth area, said Dr Ahmad Ibrahim, Chief Executive Officer of the Academic of Sciences Malaysia (ASM).

"Our oil, land and other reserves are depleting, so we need to look for new opportunities and this is one of it," he told reporters after the launch of a report titled "Rare Earth Industries: Moving Malaysia's Green Economy Forward" here today.

He said the entire scale of high-tech industries depended on a sustainable supply of rare earth elements. Rare earth is widely used in manufacturing of an extensive range of downstream products which find wide applications in such industries including aerospace, consumer electronics, automotive and telecommunications.

"If Malaysia is serious about moving into this industry, we need to partner with a lot of businesses and companies which are already in the market because they have access and technology to the market.

"We cannot do this alone," he said.

Ahmad said that by venturing into a partnership, it could help Malaysia build its own human capital, technology and resources to be one of the leading players in the industry.

Demand would grow for rare earth minerals and Malaysia should not just focus on the low value from upstream but also to venture further into the downstream as it would help to foster the nation's economy, he said.

At present, Malaysia has 30,000 tonnes of rare earth reserves coming from the residual tin deposits. - BERNAMA

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