Malaysia Eyes Chinese Expertise to Advance Rare Earth Sector

by | 18. Mar 2024 - 09:05 | Politics

Minister to visit China next month to seek out investment into a rare earth refinery.

Southeast Asian country Malaysia is looking to China to advance its rare earth sector and curb illegal mining activities. According to the Malaysian newspaper The Straits Times, the minister for science, technology, and innovation, Chang Lih Kang, will visit China in April to seek out investments in a rare earth refinery in Malaysia. The move would advance plans to streamline and modernize the sector. However, China imposed export bans on rare earth refining and separation technologies in December 2023, so it is unclear to what extent Beijing would make an exception for Malaysia’s aspiring critical minerals sector.

Malaysia is already home to a rare earth refinery operated by Australian miner Lynas. The feedstock, however, originates from Australia. A self-operated refinery that uses Malaysian raw materials would be a key element in plans to unlock the economic potential of the critical minerals used in clean energy and electric vehicle technologies. The Malaysian Government announced the discovery of rare earth deposits of around 16 million tons last year, followed by banning the export of unprocessed rare earth products from January 2024 to “guarantee maximum returns for the country.”

Exporting processed critical minerals yields higher returns than shipping out raw ores. In the same vein, the governments of the Malaysian states of Pahang and Perak pushed for establishing a Malaysian rare earth value chain including the processing stage.

Photo: iStock/Rat0007

The Magnetics Show USA 2024 advert