MAC: Mines and Communities

Malaysian Court declines appeal against Lynas

Published by MAC on 2012-11-19
Source: Business Spectator, Reuters (2012-11-14)

Court declines appeal against Lynas

Business Spectator

14 November 2012

The saga surrounding Lynas Corporation Ltd's rare earths plant in Malaysia has taken another turn, with the Kuantan High Court reportedly declining a fresh application for an interim stay on the project.

Earlier today, Lynas announced the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas group has again launched legal action against the miner's temporary operating licence (TOL).

However late this afternoon, Dow Jones Newswires and Sky News reported the Malaysian Court overseeing the Lynas matter had declined the appeal.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange this morning, the company explained how it became aware of the latest legal challenge.

"Lynas became aware, initially through statements made on the internet by the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas group, that there is a proposed in-chambers application to the Kuantan High Court today regarding a further application for an interim stay in respect of the temporary operating licence," the company said.

"Lynas believes that this appears to be a repeat of the application that was dismissed on 8 November 2012."

Shares in the miner have been halted as a result of the move. They will remain in a halt until the outcome of the hearing is known or the beginning of normal trade on November 16.

Lynas shares last traded at 65.5 cents.

Last week, the court denied an application by Save Malaysia Stop Lynas for an injunction against the TOL.

Lynas was granted a temporary operating licence for its advanced materials plant in September, but local activists had sought a judicial review of that approval.

Environmental activists and local residents argued the plant will produce radioactive pollution.

Following the ruling, Lynas announced a $200 million capital raising to fund the completion of the plant. It has since successfully raised $150 million from institutional investors.

As part of the decision, Lynas was added as a party to the application for a judicial review of an earlier decision to dismiss an appeal against the Atomic Energy Licensing Board's decision to approve the TOL.

The hearing of the judicial review application is expected in a few months time.


Lynas shares jump after Malaysia court lifts licence suspension

Siva Sithraputhran and Lincoln Feast

Reuters

8 November 2012

KUALA LUMPUR/SYDNEY - A Malaysian court lifted the suspension on Lynas Corp Ltd's licence to operate a controversial rare earth plant, sending shares in the Australian company surging, although it remained unclear when the plant would start.

The $800 million rare earth plant - the world's biggest outside China - has been ready to fire up since early May, but Lynas has been embroiled in lengthy environmental and safety disputes with local residents since construction began two years ago.

Shares in Lynas jumped 12 percent after coming off a trading halt. The stock has been on a rollercoaster due to the fight over the plant, with some investors concerned the company would have to raise funds if operations were delayed much longer.

While the news was a positive, it was not yet certain when Lynas would start the plant, said Mark Busuttil, an analyst at JP Morgan.

"At this point it feels like it's still a little early to say they're definitively going to be able to operate the plant," he said.

"We think ... that without a definitive start date it's been difficult for the company to finalise a working capital facility, so that's where the two are connected."

A spokesman for Lynas declined to comment when asked when the plant would begin processing material from its Mt Weld mine in Western Australia. Shipping the raw material would take four-six weeks, Lynas said last week.

SUPPLY BOOST

The plant near the eastern city of Kuantan is considered important to breaking China's grip on the processing of rare earths, which are used in products ranging from smartphones to hybrid cars.

But protests over possible radioactive residue have drawn thousands of people and the project has become a hot topic ahead of an election that must be held by early next year.

The company says its plant is safe and is not comparable to a rare-earths plant in Malaysia that was shut by a unit of Mitsubishi Chemicals in 1992, after residents there blamed the plant for birth defects and a high rate of leukaemia cases.

Activists linked to the environmental group Save Malaysia Stop Lynas wanted the court to suspend the licence for the Australian firm until two judicial review cases challenging the government's decision to grant the licence are decided.

The court refused to put a temporary stay on the licence until the judicial reviews start at a date which hasn't been set yet, Hon Kai Ping, a lawyer for the activists, told Reuters.

"We'll be formally appealing the decision not to grant the interim stay," Hon said.

Lynas said it expected a hearing on the judicial review "in a few months".

Lynas has previously said it expects the plant to be producing at an annual rate of about 11,000 tonnes within the first three months of operation, building up to 22,000 per annum a year later.

At that level of production, the plant will add significantly to global supply. China, which accounts for the vast majority of world output of the 17 rare earth metals, exported just 18,600 tonnes in 2011.

Last month Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (Group) Hi-Tech Co, China's top rare earths producer, said it will halt some of its smelting and separation operations for a month in an effort to stabilise slumping prices.

(Additional reporting by Miranda Maxwell in Melbourne; Editing by Stuart Grudgings and Michael Urquhart)



Lynas wins battle against activists, gears up to start rare earths production in Malaysia

Cecilia Jamasmie - Mining.com

8 November 2012

On Thursday Australia's Lynas Corp won the latest of a series of long-dragged legal battles against activists, which took the company to court for allegedly causing major health and environmental damages to the Malaysian population.

Today's decision will allow the company to finally start production at its $800 million rare earths plant -LAMP- in the South East Asian country.

The Australian miner secured its licence to operate in early September, but the High Court of Pahang state -where the plant is located- put production on hold after an appeal by environmental and human rights advocates.

Last August analysts from Foster Stockbroking told investors to get rid of their shares in the company, as they didn't see an end in sight for the ongoing problems that have forced the company to halt its the LAMP operations.

Critics of the project believe that allowing the refinery to operate represents a high risk for Malaysians' well being and the environment. Supporters argue that the plant will help stabilize rare earth prices, as it will be the first in years outside China. The Asian superpower not only supplies nearly 95% of the world's rare earths, but it has imposed severe restrictions on the exports of these elements, widely used in high-tech equipment.

Thursday's decision may not be the last news we hear about Lynas and its polemic plant in Malaysia, as a recent report exposed that opposition political parties had announced their plan to close down the plant if they win the upcoming election in April 2013.

And environmental group "Save Malaysia Stop Lynas," which has been spearheading the case against the mining company, said they would appeal against the verdict.

LAMP was originally scheduled to start processing rare earths in the third quarter of 2011.

 

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