IAEA study on Australia’s rare earths plant out 30 June

Posted on June 21, 2011. Filed under: Pollution |

-International Business Times-

Malaysia’s appointed independent panel investigating the environmental impact of the Australian rare earths plant in the country has completed its work and is set to issue its findings by end of the month.

REUTERS
[MALAYSIA] Activists hold a banner and placards during a demonstration held in conjunction with the Earth Day against a planned RM700 million ($230 million) rare earth plant to be built near Kuantan, in Putrajaya April 22, 2011. Residents living around the area of the plant to be built by Australian miner Lynas Corp near Kuantan, 250 km (155 miles) east of Kuala Lumpur, have raised questions over the potential environmental hazards arising from radioactive waste. Earth Day marks an annual effort to raise public awareness about the environment and inspire actions to clean it up. The banner says “Earth Day, A Protest to Save the Earth.”

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the panel appointed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would submit its report to the Malaysian government by 30 June.

“This completes one phase of a decision-making process that has important implications to the Government and the nation. Public safety will not be compromised by the Government,” he said in an issued press statement.

The rare earths facility being investigated by the commissioned IAEA team is proposed by Australian miner Lynas and will be built in eastern Malaysia.

Project documents showed that the completion of the rare earths facility in Gebeng, Kuantan can possibly match the capacity churned by China plants. Rare earths are a key element in technologically advanced gadgets especially Apple Inc.’s products like the iPad and iPhones.

The proposed rare earths plants were met with opposition by various environment groups because of health and safety concerns that prompted local authorities to seek an independent study.

Meantime, Lynas assured that the plant will have state-of-the art contamination controls.

He reiterated that the study done by the IAEA team will be factual and reinforces the government’s decision would not be merely based on “emotional or political considerations.”

“I think investors will welcome the fact that the Government makes its decisions based on facts and reasons, and does not act arbitrarily,” Mr Mustapa said.

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