Legalizing Rare Earth Industry in Malaysia
Rare earth minerals, to be defined in a simple way, are 17 elements located on the periodic table and essential to the production of high-tech gadgets such as smart-phones, flat screen televisions, catalytic converters, low-energy light bulbs, hybrid cars, wind turbines, and laser devices just to name a few. Lynas, an Australia rare earth company, was the first to bring rare earth production into the industrial estate of Gebang near Kuantan, east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Since the coming in of rare earth plant into Malaysia, there were so many protests against it. Rare earth minerals aren’t really that rare. Deposits of most of the elements can be found all across the globe including the continental North America. Since these minerals are so common throughout the world, why U.S. Military have to pay China for imports to build missiles and radars? It is because mining for rare earth brings a huge negative impact towards environment and will also create radioactive wastage as a byproduct. Although the effects from rare earth plant in Malaysia are yet to be seen, it doesn’t means that it wouldn’t become a real nightmare for us who are staying in and love Malaysia. Research before starting the operation of the company was just too simple, and many of the problems were neither solved nor mentioned, such as where to place and how to manage all the wastages produced as all of them contain radioactive substances, not just by saying that they will export all of the wastage out of Malaysia. Overall saying, rare earth minerals are important substances that can make our life more comfortable but yet, Malaysia is just not really ready for it.
Many says that using and producing of rare earth material helps to reduce green house gas emissions (taken from Lynas Corporation Ltd http://www.lynascorp.com) as these materials are used in producing environment friendly products such as hybrid cars, that used less petrol that wouldn’t produce so much gases that will pollute and lead to global warming and greenhouse effect. And so, these type of vehicles really does made an effort in keeping our earth clean from pollutions and reduced some of the effects towards global warming and greenhouse effect. However, this is just a way to protect our environment only after the rare earth minerals are ready to be used. What happened if the radioactive wastages from the production of rare earth were not handled properly? Much of the opposition against Lynas is based on an irrational fear over radiation pollution from the low-level radioactive waste of thorium and uranium rather than informed opinions on the issue ( The Nutgraph, Gan Pei Ling, 26 March 2012). Yes the radioactive level of the wastages is low, and with a proper and under monitored, it can be saved to have a rare earth plant in Malaysia. But yet until the giving of the Temporary Operating License to Lynas, it just stated that the wastages from the process will be transferred out from Malaysia, without saying where it will be going. Try to think of it, if you are from other countries, do you want some wastages that were produced by other countries to be in your own country? As long as the management problem of wastages still occur, having a rare earth plant in Malaysia is just not at a right timing.
On the other hand, having a new factory in Malaysia, the job opportunities provided will increased for sure. With Lynas in Malaysia, it provided 350 direct employees, 300 contract staff and 1000 indirect employees through supporting industries (RARE EARTH INDUSTRY IN MALAYSIA PART 2, 22 April 2012 ). Along with the increased of job opportunities, it helps to reduce the unemployment problem for us. And also along with the money earned by the workers from this industry, it will raise our country’s GDP. And so, it is a benefit towards our country’s economic but, apart from the salary for workers, what if their health is...
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