Friday, July 1

Malaysia’s mining industry on way to full recovery


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s mining industry is now on the road to full recovery after its tin mining industry, once the world’s most successful, collapsed almost entirely in the 1980s due to price manipulation, Xinhua reported.

Increased production costs and tough conditions forced the mining industry in mineral-rich countries in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, to slow down.

But anti-mining measures in neighboring countries have revived positive mining prospects in Malaysia as some 50 new mining leases have been issued last year and 152 leases in 2010 as companies were making a beeline for leases and exploration licenses to mine in this mineral-rich Southeast Asian country.

Singapore-based iron ore miner Zhong Cheng Mining Sdn Bhd recently moved its entire operations to peninsular Malaysia.

Its president and CEO Tan Hoe Beng told Xinhua that the company has so far invested 400 million ringgit (128.74 million U.S. dollars) in Malaysia and is planning to triple that amount by 2016.

The Singapore firm is planning a listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in the first quarter of next year.

“Our group is very bullish about the mining industry in Malaysia and we would invest a lot more. In order to fund our very aggressive expansion, we will have a listing in Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The only question is timing… I believe the first quarter of next year would be a good timing,” Tan said.

Tan was interviewed at the firm’s 700-acre iron ore mine, a joint venture with Hong Kong’s Prosperity International Holdings Ltd, in peninsula Malaysia’s largest state Pahang in the east coast.

The company mines and processes from 15 mine concessions across peninsula Malaysia three million tons of iron ore annually.

All of the firm’s output are shipped to China, whose demand for iron ore reaches a record 1.8 billion tons this year.

Tan said that Malaysia has the needed infrastructure for a successful mining operation.

Zhong Cheng plans to add 10 more mine sites in its portfolio, aiming for an increased annual output of 10 million tons of iron ore by 2015.

The Malaysian government has recently said that the country expects the shipment of minerals to double this year.

The estimated value of major minerals produced in 2011 in Malaysia was 6.18 billion ringgit (1.98 billion U.S. dollars), a 54 percent increase from 3.99 billion ringgit (1.28 billion U.S. dollars) recorded in 2010.

Its gold production almost doubled to 4,215 kilograms last year from 2009 while coal output grew 2.9 million tons last year compared with two years ago.

Iron ore output saw the highest jump of all minerals as it doubled to 7.6 million tons last year from 3.5 million tons a year ago, according to the preliminary government data.