No automatic licence for Lynas, says Putrajaya

Posted on June 30, 2011. Filed under: Pollution |

-The Malaysianinsider-

KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — While Lynas Corp remains confident its RM700 million rare earths plant in Pahang will be able to fire up by year-end, Putrajaya reassured today a still jittery public the Australian supplier has not got the green light to operate.

Malaysia’s  trade minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (picture) and his Cabinet colleague in charge of science and technology, Datuk Maximus Ongkili, said the federal government will ensure that Lynas fulfils the 11 conditions recommended by an expert review panel from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its report released today.

To move the project forward, Lynas will be required to provide a comprehensive long-term detailed plan for waste management, including at the decommissioning and remediation level, the federal government said.

“Until this is done, the status quo remains: there will be no importation of raw materials into the country, and no operational activities will be allowed on site,” the two ministers said in a joint statement.

Government radiation regulator, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB), said Lynas has only won approval for two licences out of five required to power up the rare earths refinery being built to challenge China’s global chokehold on the industry.

Rare earths metals are crucial for the manufacture of green consumer goods such as smartphones, energy-saving lighbulbs and cars.

AELB director-general Datuk Abdul Aziz Adnan told reporters today Lynas is licensed only to built its refinery at the present site in Gebeng but must submit more-detailed plans for managing its hazardous waste material both temporarily and permanently before AELB will consider giving it any further licences.

He added the agency will award them stage-by-stage.

To date, Lynas has cleared the site and construction stages; the other three phases it needs to clear are for the pre-operating, operating and decommissioning licences.

Aziz said Lynas has indicated to the agency its waste management plan, but added he could not disclose it at the moment due to a confidentiality clause.

The Sydney-based company is also required to deposit one per cent of sales from the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp) with the federal government, Malaysia’s trade ministry secretary-general Datuk Rebecca Sta Maria disclosed in a news conference today.

Sta Maria said half the amount will go towards research and development and the other half is to go into a decommissioning fund for when the plant closes.

 

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