Malaysia

Lynas brushes aside new conditions, to submit proposal tomorrow

By Shannon Teoh
June 18, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 — Lynas Corp will submit proposals tomorrow to meet two new conditions which appear to be the final obstacles in obtaining a temporary operating licence (TOL) for the Australian miner’s controversial rare earth plant in Kuantan.

The managing director for its Malaysian operations, Datuk Mashal Ahmad, said it would have “no problem” meeting the terms and was already finalising documents to submit to the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (MOSTI) which had imposed the conditions just three days ago.

Mashal said the Lynas plant has met all the safety conditions. — File picMashal said the Lynas plant has met all the safety conditions. — File pic“Our radiological adviser is already preparing the proposal even though we haven’t received the official letter from MOSTI. We want to see how long it takes to approve now that we have met all the safety conditions,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

The new conditions were imposed after MOSTI rejected an appeal by residents, who live within two kilometres of the plant that has raised fears of radiation pollution, against the February decision to approve a TOL.

In a letter to the villagers, the minister, Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili, said the government has told Lynas to submit a plan to immobilise radioactive elements in its waste, and to come up with an emergency response plan on dust control.

Lynas executive chairman Nicholas Curtis also said it had “readily available solutions” to satisfy the new conditions for his company’s RM2.5 billion project.

“Lynas has passed every review it has been subject to, and we now look forward to the issuance of the TOL,” he said in a statement today.

Although the findings of a parliamentary select committee on the refinery have yet to be adopted by Parliament, the government and nuclear regulators Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) have said that the panel’s terms of reference do not include the issuing of a licence.

However, residents who filed the appeal have said they will challenge MOSTI’s decision in court, calling the conditions “flimsy” and “not specific enough and will in no way safeguard or appease the fears of residents living in the area.”

Lynas had said last month that it was on track to start up its rare earth plant in Malaysia within weeks after Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin, chairman of the parliamentary committee, called it “the safest rare earth plant in the world.”

It also said in April that delays in obtaining the licence for its facility, which was initially approved in January, may have “very serious consequences” for the RM80 billion worth of rare earth orders already received as it is “sold out for the next 10 years.”