Slowly but Surely, Lynas Rare Earths Malaysian Mine to Operate Soon

Posted on January 3, 2012. Filed under: Pollution |

-International Business Times-

In what could be a positive signal for the eventual opening of its controversial rare earths plant in 2012, the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) has put for public consultation the application for a temporary operating licence of Australian rare earth processing company Lynas Corp.

Datuk Madinah Mohamad, secretary-general of Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti), said the document will be on display from Jan. 3 to 17 at the AELB headquarters in Dengkil, Selangor; the Pahang State Secretariat from Mondays to Fridays; the AELB temporary office at the Lynas’ project site in Gebeng, Kuantan; and at the AELB east coast branch office in Kemaman, Terengganu from Sundays to Thursdays.

“People who want to comment on the document have to submit a form provided at the locations before noon on January 20,” she said in a statement.

There was no mention, however, of a definite deadline or decision of whether Lynas Corp. will eventually be granted the crucial pre-operating licence needed to operate the plant. Neither was there also any mention when the permit will be released.

The nearly completed LAMP plant in Malaysia is in conjunction to Lynas Corp.’s Mount Weld Rare Earth Project, near Leonora in WA. Mount Weld is already operational, with buyers already lined-up to purchase its yield. The final stumbling stock that remains is Malaysia’s approval on the LAMP plant. Once approval is secured, Lynas Corp. is touted to become one of the world’s biggest rare earths producers that could possibly give China a run for its money and rare earths produce.

China, the world’s second largest economy, is also the world’s stronghold of rare earths elements, supplying more than 95 per cent of global demand.

The Australian company’s failure to get an approval to operate the plant has rendered the completion of LAMP behind schedule. The locals in Kuantan where the LAMP advanced materials plant is based oppose the project due to fears of radiation pollution. In June 2011, Lynas Corp. announced the $200-million plant would be operational by end 2011.

In December, the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) and the National Professors’ Council (NPC), in a joint 63-page report on the project, said Lynas Corp.’s rare earth plant would be safe and harmless if the company adhered to the tight recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency, including waste management, worker safety, public safety and environmental well-being.

In late December, Malaysia’s Department of Environment for Pahang, where the plant is located, held a public briefing. It supported Lynas Corp.’s plant and said it is more of a chemicals factory than a radioactive facility, according to Malaysian news reports.

The Australian miner had also painstakingly placed full-page advertisements in mainstream Malaysian newspapers to explain how the facility operates to allay community concerns on radioactive pollution risk.

 

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