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Malaysia plans to use 10% of rubber supply in roads

[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia plans to use 10 per cent of its rubber supply in roads from 2016 as it looks to eat into excess supplies and shore up rubber prices, ministers said on Wednesday.

The roads will be made using rubber cup lumps, or naturally coagulated latex, which will be processed into bituminous cup lumps and then mixed into asphalt. The Malaysian Rubber Board estimates 4.2 tonnes of cup lumps will be needed for each kilometre of road.

Malaysia expects to produce about 710,000 tonnes of natural rubber this year, Plantations and Commodities Minister Douglas Uggah Embas told a news conference after signing an agreement with the Works Ministry. "The target is to use 10 per cent of Malaysia's rubber for this purpose," he said. "We hope the excess supply of rubber will be drastically reduced ... and help reduce pressure on prices." Embas said there was a possibility of increasing the usage of rubber in roads to 15 or 20 per cent of supply if the project was successful.

Works Minister Fadillah Yusof said the rubberised roads would save on costs, be cheaper to maintain and help roads last longer.

The ministry was also looking to use seismic rubber in building structures to protect buildings and absorb shocks in high-risk earthquake areas, he added.

In June Malaysia was hit by a 6.0 magnitude quake that killed hikers on its highest peak, Mount Kinabalu.