Lynas gets six more months to meet radioactive waste ban in Malaysia

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Malaysia has granted Australian miner Lynas Corp a six-month extension until January 2024 to comply with a ban on producing radioactive waste as its rare-earths plant in Kuantan, Pahang.

The Straits Times today reported that Lynas was notified of the extension following an appeal hearing on April 28, ahead of an expected announcement this week.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Chang Lih Kang reportedly made the decision due to the current geopolitical importance of rare earth elements.

Rare-earth elements were essential for producing high-tech applications such as electric vehicles, smartphones, and military equipment; global supply was currently controlled by China that accounted for 80 per cent of the market.

In February, Lynas got a conditional three-year licence renewal, which included a requirement for it to remove the “cracking and leaching” of lanthanide concentrate out of Malaysia and to restrict its advanced materials plant to only refining intermediate materials.

According to The Straits Times, there were concerns regarding the refining processes due to potential environmental and health hazards, particularly the release of radiation.

However, Lynas maintained that the process did not release extraordinary levels of radiation to the environment around its Gebeng facility, which accounted for half of all rare-earth elements supply excluding China.

The Opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) previously urged the minister explain the conditions, as have members of the industry and foreign envoys.

Prior to the six-month extension, Lynas had warned in a quarterly report that it would have to cease operating in Malaysia by July unless the country reviewed the conditions set for its provisional licence renewal.