Malaysia's mineral resource industry consists of a sector of coal, ferrous and nonferrous metals mining, a sector of ferrous and nonferrous metals processing, and a sector of industrial minerals extraction and processing. Most mining and mineral-processing businesses incorporated in Malaysia are privately owned or  a joint venture with State-owned company.



Metallic Minerals

Tin ore continued to be mined but not as much as in the past glorious years of the 70s and 80s when Malaysia was the world’s largest tin ore producer.  High grade deposits have inevitably been exhausted following decades of tin mining.  Competition from other economic sectors, such as agriculture, plantations, property and industrial developments, over land use have made them now less available for mining.  Tin-in-concentrate production increased 0.8 per cent in 2016 to   4,158 tonnes. Most of the tin ore produced during the year came from mines located in Perak, Selangor and Pahang.

Production of bauxite in 2016 decreased drastically by 95 per cent to 342,924 tonnes from 7,164,956 tonnes in 2015 due to the continuing moratorium imposed on bauxite mining throughout the year. The 2016 production were from three mines, one located in Pahang and the other in Johore, both of which hold mining leases issued under the State Mineral Enactment (SME). There were also bauxite produced from mines with passes issued under the National Land Code and also from illegal mines of which their total production could not be ascertained.  According to the Department of Minerals and Geoscience (JMG), there are potential resources of bauxite in other parts of Malaysia, such as in the states of Sarawak and Sabah.

The continuing moratorium imposed by the Government on bauxite mining was because of environmental concerns.

Gold production in 2016 decreased substantially by 52.5 per cent to 2,249 kgs from 4,732 kgs in 2015.  The output came from 12 gold mines located in Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan.  Malaysia’s major gold producers are the Selinsing Gold Mine and the Penjom Gold Mine both located in Kuala Lipis, Pahang.  The Raub Australian Gold Mine, which is also another major gold mine located in Raub, Pahang was inactive during the year. Most of these gold mines are joint-ventures between local and foreign interests. The Penjom Gold Mine is the largest open pit primary gold mine in Malaysia while the Selinsing Gold Mine contributes the largest share of the country’s annual gold output.  Studies by the Department of Minerals and Geoscience have indicated prospective gold deposits in several other states, such as Terengganu, Negeri Sembilan, Johore, Sabah and Sarawak.

Production of ilmenite in 2016 decreased to 4,316 tonnes from 5,814 tonnes produced in 2015.  Ilmenite comes mainly from the processing of ‘amang’ from alluvial tin.  Since the closure of the only primary ilmenite mine located in Terengganu in 2003 due to exhaustion of high grade reserves, production today comes mainly from amang retreatment plants in Perak and Selangor. There have also been large imports of ilmenite for use by domestic consumers and re-exports.

Iron Ore
Owing to strong demand from China, Malaysia’s main iron-ore export destination, and with higher prices, output during the year increased by 17.8 per cent to 1,914,232 tonnes from 1,625,253 tonnes in 2015.  They were produced from 41 mines located in Pahang, Johore, Perak, Kelantan, Kedah and Terengganu.  These iron-ore were of low grade that came mostly from mines with small reserves.  Besides export, the iron-ore were consumed by the local cement, and iron and steel plants.  Malaysia’s steel industry also imports iron-ore for their manufacturing requirements in the form of lumps and pellets, mainly from Brazil, Chile and Bahrain.

Manganese ore is an important raw material in iron and steel production. It is essential by virtue of its sulphur-fixing, deoxidizing and alloying properties. Besides a variety of other uses, manganese is also used in producing aluminium alloys and dry cell batteries.

Production of manganese ore in 2016 increased by 45.8 per cent to 700,717 tonnes from 480,727 tonnes produced in 2015. Deposits of manganese have been found in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Johore with total ore resource amounting to some 3.7 million tonnes. The grades are mostly 50 per cent Mn or below.

Non-Metallic Minerals

Malaysia have abundant resources of aggregates located in the states of Perak, Selangor, Johore, Sabah and Sarawak.   Production of aggregates in 2016 decreased by 16 per cent to 133,072,882 tonnes from 158,744,150 tonnes produced in the previous year.  They came from two primary sources, namely quarries and river beds, with the former consisting mainly of granite and limestone.  These aggregates are the primary construction materials used for the many on-going infrastructure and mega projects throughout the country.

Malaysia also have abundant clay resources with deposits located in the states of Pahang, Selangor, Terengganu, Kelantan, Perak, Kedah, Pulau Pinang, Negeri Sembilan, Johore and Sarawak. These clays include common clay, ball clay, fire clay, shale, laterite and red earth.  They are mainly used in making bricks, ceramic wares, cement and also for landfill. Malaysia’s clay production in 2016 decreased by 29 per cent to 5,794,833 tonnes from 8,149,039 tonnes produced in 2015.

Feldspar resources in Malaysia are limited.  They are found in the states of Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Johore, Kedah, Pahang and Kelantan.  There are four types of feldspar but only the potassium and sodium feldspar have economic value.  They are used mainly in the production of glass, ceramics and mild abrasives.  Production in 2016 decreased to 441,857 tonnes from 442,980 tonnes produced in 2015.


Malaysia have sizeable reserves of kaolin located in the states of Perak, Johore, Kelantan, Selangor, Pahang and Sarawak. However, mining for kaolin are being carried out only in Perak, Pahang and Johor. Production of kaolin in 2016 increased by 33 per cent to 392,932 tonnes from 294,693 tonnes produced in 2015.  There were 19 active kaolin mines during the year under review.  Kaolin is used mainly as paper coatings and fillers, and in the manufacturing of ceramics, paints, rubber, plastics and chemical products.

Malaysia have abundant limestone resources.  Some 12,000 million tonnes of limestone reserves have been identified by JMG located in the states of Perlis, Kedah, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak.  Limestone is used in the manufacture of cement, and also for producing marble dimension stone and other limestone based products.  Limestone production in 2016 rose by 5 per cent to 25,431,150 tonnes from 24,164,453 tonnes produced in 2015.

Mica is a group of silicate minerals comprising varying amounts of aluminium, potassium, magnesium, iron and water. The mica produced in Malaysia is sericite, which is a fine-grained muscovite mica. The crude fine flakes are recovered from schistose rocks by screening according to the required grain size, either by wet or dry process. They are then further processed into various sizes of ground mica (sericite) powder. Sericite is used in industrial applications such as fillers in paints and cosmetics, as mould lubricant in the rubber industry, fluxing agent in welding electrodes and reinforcement in plastics.

Production of mica in 2016 decreased slightly to 4,701 tonnes from 2015 output of 4,788 tonnes.  There were two mica producers in 2016, both located in Bidor, Perak and operating on ex-tin mining land. Most of Malaysia’s mica production are exported to Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and South Korea.

Sand & Gravel
Malaysia have abundant sand and gravel resources, which are mainly derived from rivers, alluvium, offshore areas and mine tailings located throughout the states of Perak, Kedah, Johore, Selangor and Sarawak. Sand and gravel are also important raw materials for the construction and infrastructure industries. Production in 2016 increased by 11 per cent to 44,944,336 tonnes from 40,577,879 tonnes produced in 2015.

Silica Sand
Silica sand resources in Malaysia are abundant.  They comprise largely of natural sand deposits and ex-tin mine tailings.  The JMG has estimated that the country has some 148.4 million tonnes of silica sand reserves located in the states of Johor, Perak, Terengganu, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak.  Production of silica sand in 2016 decreased by 40 per cent to 5,408,814 tonnes from 9,002,867 tonnes produced in 2015.  They came from several active sand mining operations in Johore, Perak and Sarawak.  Most of the silica are used in the manufacture of glass products and to a lesser extent in the production of ceramics, foundries, glass wool and water treatment materials.

Energy Mineral

Malaysia’s coal resources are located primarily in the states of Sarawak and Sabah with smaller occurrences in the states of Selangor, Perak and Perlis.  Reserves estimated by JMG amounts to some 1,724 million tonnes, of which 275 million tonnes are measured, 347 million tonnes indicated and the balance of 1,102 million tonnes as inferred.  Percentage wise, some 80 per cent of these resources are in Sarawak, 19 per cent in Sabah and one per cent in Peninsular Malaysia.  The largest reserves of coal are located in Merit Pila, Sarawak and in Maliau and Malibau, Sabah.  Production in 2016 decreased to 2,414,765 tonnes from 2,559,444 tonnes produced in 2015 that came from eight mines, all in Sarawak.

Malaysia import large quantities of coal for its domestic requirements.  Its major import source countries are Indonesia, Australia and China. The imported coal are consumed mainly by the power generation and cement plants and to a lesser extent by the iron and steel plants.  Coal is one of Malaysia’s current domestic energy mix under its Five-Fuel Policy comprising oil, gas, hydro power, coal and renewable energy.



  • Source:  Department of Mineral and Geoscience, Malaysia.



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