Lynas a ‘critical test’

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

-Malay Mail-
Success of rare earth plant will determine future in high-risk business
Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 10:40:00
Ahmad IbrahimAHMAD: Lynas could be beneficial but  government must be transparent about risks involved

KUALA LUMPUR: The success of Lynas Corp’s rare earth plant in Kuantan will determine whether the country moves forward in a high-risk technology industry.

Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) chief executive offi cer Ahmad Ibrahim, said the government must play an active role in engaging the public over the risks involved in such industries.

“Lynas is an important test case for Malaysia moving into the high-risk technologies areas. The government needs to have a different modus operandi, especially in engaging the public because increasingly, these are important determinants of future high-risk business,” he told reporters at a press conference at a hotel here yesterday.

Ahmad stressed the government has to be transparent and social acceptance is important in minimising costs for both government and foreign investors.

“Unless you get social acceptance, you will have the problem. It’s not just about the problem of getting into the business but running the business will also be problematic and it will be a major cost factor to the company,” he said.

Ahmad also said rare earth metals are important for the country to remain competitive in the green industry.

“Green economy is emerging and booming in a lot of countries. And rare earth is one of the components used in most of these products.

“We need partners not just like Lynas, but we must built our own capacity for technology, resources and at the end of the day, we just want to be one of the leading players in the rare earth industry,” he said.

Rare earth metals are used in manufacturing hybrid and electronic vehicles, solar and wind-powered  technologies and other personal electronics including smartphones.

Scientists back importance of green industry

THE Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) and National Professors’ Council of Malaysia (NPCM) released a report yesterday, endorsing the importance of rare earth industries in developing the country’s green economy.

It however fell short of endorsing the Lynas Corp’s rare earth plant in Gebeng, Pahang.

ASM and NPCM working group chief spokesman Datuk Lee Yee Cheong said: “We are not endorsing anything. What we say is the regulatory standards must be followed.”

The report entitled Rare Earth Industries: Moving Malaysia’s Green Economy Forward was funded by both ASM and NPCM which are under the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry and Higher Education Ministry respectively.

Lynas has faced continued public resistance over its controversial RM1.5 billion rare earth plant, expected to be operational by early next year.

Despite reports that the plant is 85 per cent completed, the government has yet to issue a pre-operational licence to Lynas.

Many have argued against the safety of the plant after reports of health problems allegedly caused by the rare earth plant in Bukit Merah, Ipoh.

Despite the plant’s closing in 1992, residents have blamed it for birth defects and eight leukemia cases in their community of only 11,000.

Although Lee agreed processing rare earths will produce by-products with radioactive risks, he said the report did not endorse the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) report that Lynas plant is safe.

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