Lynas fights claims it must export all waste from Malaysia plant

  • From:The Australian 
  • December 11, 2012 12:20PM

LYNAS has been forced to halt trading in its shares following calls for its Malaysian processing plant to be shut if it doesn’t export waste from the controversial facility.

The company has long battled community opposition to the plant in Gebeng and has faced numerous legal attempts to force the closure of the operation but has won each case.

The latest call for the plant to be shut is led by local opposition politician, Lim Guan Eng, who jumped on reports that Lynas Malaysia’s managing director Mashal Ahmad had indicated that the company would not export residue from the plant.

In a statement issued last night, Lynas refuted the media reports, saying Mr Ahmad had not stated that the waste would remain in Malaysia and that he had clearly explained Lynas would convert the residue into a commercially safe product called synthetic aggregate.

The Malaysian government signed off on a temporary operating licence for the plant in September, seven months after it first received the all-clear from the Atomic Energy Licensing Board.

 Lynas finally achieved first feed to kiln at the plant at the end of last month, after repeatedly winning legal challenges attempting to stop it processing rare-earths from its West Australian mine at the facility.

Opponents to the plant claim that part of the conditions of the licence include exporting all residue from the facility and that failure to do so could lead to the licence being revoked by the government without penalty.

Following yesterday’s reports, Reuters reported today that four Malaysian ministers had issued a joint statement saying that Lynas must export the waste material created at the plant or risk having its operating licence revoked.

“Should Lynas fail to comply with this condition, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board is empowered to suspend or revoke the license and order Lynas to immediately cease operation,” the ministers said in the statement.

Patersons Securities analyst Andrew Harrington said in a note to clients today that the licence had a condition that required a permanent disposal facility to be agreed between Lynas and the government.

He said that facility was still being discussed but that Lynas had gone above any local or international requirement and offered to export waste that had been turned into aggregate for road base and construction.

“This is not an obligation but goodwill gesture from Lynas,” he said.

Lynas said it was reviewing all press news to identify reports that deliberately portrayed Lynas as deceiving the public and the government of Malaysia, adding that it reserved its right to exercise all available options.

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