Shareholders urged to divest from Lynas

MEDIA RELEASE
Friday 29 November 2013
Himpunan Hijau, Save Malaysia Stop Lynas, Friends of the Earth Australia, AidWatch & Beyond Nuclear Initiative

Malaysian ‘eco super heroes’ protest shareholder meeting in Sydney
252 George Street, Sydney at 9:00AM | Press Conference at 9:30AM

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SYDNEY| This morning Australian NGOs and concerned members of the public will join 16 Malaysian delegates outside Lynas Corporations[1] shareholder meeting in a colourful protest and artistic photo opportunity expressing the groups concerns. This follows on from a 24/7, 3-day occupation outside Lynas headquarters.[2]

For the past two years the biggest environmental movement in Malaysia has formed in response to the Australian rare earth miner’s back door dealings in building the worlds largest industrial rare earth refinery, the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP).

“Lynas came in through the back door. They built this plant without the people knowing. The plant was approved without proper procedures and without a proper environment impact assessment of the area. The location of the plant is not suitable for this sort of industry” says Himpunan Hijau (Green Assembly)[3] chairperson Wong Tack.

A year ago Wong Tack lead a 14-day 300 km walk, the Green Walk, from Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur in protest of the Lynas project. The solo walk turned into a long march that ended up with 20,000 people in its last days into Kuala Lumpur.

“Our Bury Lynas with 1,000,000 signatures petition campaign has collected over 1.2 million signatures since September this year – and more are coming in. We are here in Australia with the voices of more than a million people to tell Lynas we will close your toxic plant down.”

“We are giving Lynas a deadline to pull out by June 29, 2014. If they don’t, that will be the date when millions of Malaysians will come to the streets to shut down this toxic plant. This is the message we give to Lynas and its shareholders.”

Lynas has been plagued by delays and controversy, losing $107 million in the last financial year on its LAMP. StopLynas.org, an affiliate campaign of Friends of the Earth Australia, along with Beyond Nuclear Initiative, and AidWatch are joining the call for Lynas to shut down the LAMP and leave Malaysia,, declaring that Lynas is a bad investment and has no social licence to operate.

Thulsi Narayanasamy, Director, Aidwatch said, “Here is yet another example of an Australian mining company operating abroad despite ongoing and widespread opposition from locals in addition to well founded environmental concerns.”

“Many people don’t realise how serious the activities of Australian mining companies overseas are, and their ability to get away with a flagrant disregard for people, the environment and the law.” She continued,

“Australia needs to take some responsibility for the activity of our big businesses before promoting their interests abroad.”

Australia is a signatory to the Basel Convention Control[4] which is aimed at reducing international movements of hazardous waste. Yet Lynas has no plan for the radioactive waste from its LAMP.

Beyond Nuclear Initiative (BNI) coordinator Natalie Wasley said, “BNI supports and commends the mass movement in Malaysia against Lynas. The LAMP proposal will leave a radioactive legacy for Malaysia’s future generations and fails environmental and social justice tests.”

“Top down decisions about long term, high risk projects-like LAMP, or the Muckaty nuclear dump proposal in Australia – will always be met with opposition; out of sight for companies is never out of mind for affected communities”

Seet Ping, key member of Himpunan Hijau, and mother said, “Tens of thousands of mothers in Malaysia like myself share the same commitment in shutting Lynas down. We ask Lynas shareholders to reconsider whether Lynas is really a good investment and to divest.”

Himpunan Hijau is also joined by members of Save Malaysia Stop Lynas who will be asking questions of the Lynas directors inside the shareholder meeting.

Save Malaysia Stop Lynas spokesperson Tan Bun Teet says, ”Shareholders have the right to know the truth. This is our third visit to Australia. We will continue with our Stop Lynas campaign until the plant is shut down.”

“We cannot accept another toxic legacy when the Malaysian Government has such a bad track record in dealing with toxic radioactive waste which continues to pose great risk and hazards to the tax-paying citizens when Lynas gets away paying no tax.”

For more information:
Kate Morrison 0424 007 081 for interviews with Wong Tack, Seet Ping & Tan Bun Teet
Thulsi Narayansamy, AidWatch, 
thulsi@aidwatch.org.au, 0405 801 943
Natalie Wasley, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, natwasley@gmail.com, 0429 900 774
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BACKGROUND

[1] Lynas Corporation: On August 4th 2011 Australian company Lynas Corporation officially opened its Mt Weld rare earth mine in Western Australia. Lynas wants to export 33,000 tonnes per annum of rare earth concentrates through the port of Fremantle in Western Australia to the port of Kuantan in Malaysia to their polluting, energy intensive an highly controversial processing plant, the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP).  It has faced ongoing opposition from Malaysian residents and environmentalists, as well as ongoing operational problems over the past three years. Lynas commenced commercial production and shipments during the June 2013 quarter

[2] The Lynas Occupation started on Tuesday 26 November. Six Himpunan Hijau members flew into Sydney and went straight to Lynas headquarters, 56 Pitt Street, Sydney to start the 24/7 3-day protest.

[3] Himpunan Hijau (Green Assembly) is a large grassroot green movement set-up in November 2011 by a group of locals from Kuantan, Pahang to protest against the Lynas project and environmental injustice. Their occupation and protest of Lynas in Sydney follows on from several key activities including:

  • Mobilisation or over 250,000 people in the streets of Kuala Lumpur against Lynas;
  • Occupation of Independence Square in which they collected over 1 million signatures to shut down Lynas in Malaysia; and
  • Green Walk, a 300 km walk to raise awareness resulting in 20,000 people joining the walk in its last days into Kuala Lumpur.

[4] The Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal first came into force in 1992. The Convention puts an onus on exporting countries to ensure that hazardous wastes are managed in an environmentally sound manner in the country of import.

The Basel Convention places obligations on countries that are party to the Convention. 151 Countries have ratified the Basel Convention as at December 2002. These obligations are to:

  • Minimise generation of hazardous waste;
  • Ensure adequate disposal facilities are available;
  • Control and reduce international movements of hazardous waste;
  • Ensure environmentally sound management of wastes; and
  • Prevent and punish illegal traffic.

Australia signed the Basel Convention in 1992. The Convention is implemented in Australia by the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989.

 


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