MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Australian rare earths producer to face Malaysian court case

Published by MAC on 2020-01-19
Source: miining.com

The world's most important heavy and medium rare earth minerals producer, outside of China, is Australian Lynas Corp.

Despite gaining a licence to operate it now faces a court case on its government-endorsed operations in Malaysia [for earlier news, see: Losing a social licence to operate].

Lynas’ rare earth licence renewal in Malaysia challenged in court

Cecilia Jamasmie

17 January 2020

Australian rare earth miner Lynas Corp (ASX: LYC) said Friday that three
individuals in Malaysia had filed a lawsuit challenging the government’s
decision to renew the company’s operating licence last year.

The miner, the world’s only major producer of rare earths outside China,
isn’t the only one being sued. Other individuals targeted include the
Prime Minister of Malaysia, 27 other Ministers and Cabinet members, the
Government of Malaysia and the Atomic Energy Licensing Board, Lynas said.

The court case questions the processes followed by the government in
reaching its August decision to allow the miner to continue operating in
the country, under certain conditions, including identifying a

The lawsuit questions the processes followed by the government in
reaching its August decision to allow the miner to continue operating
in the country

The Sydney-based miner agreed to start extracting low-level radioactivity
from the ore mined at its Mt. Weld operation, before shipping it to
Malaysia for final treatment.

The cracking and leaching plant, to be built this year in Kalgoorie,
Australia, will perform the first step of concentrate processing in 2021.
The facility is expected to be completed in late 2022 or early 2023.

Lynas said at the time it planned to explore opportunities for the next
stage of rare earth processing (upstream solvent extraction) in Western
Australia.

The company, which controls just over 10% of the global rare earths
market, has also revealed plans to build a separation facility in the
United States.

The facility would be the world’s only large-scale producer of separated
medium and heavy rare earth products outside of China, which currently
accounts for 70% of global production. Beijing also controls 90% of a $4
billion global market for materials used in magnets and motors that power
phones, wind turbines, electric vehicles and military devices.

The series of announcements came after increased opposition and scrutiny
to its Lynas Advance Material Plant (LAMP) in Malaysia. Environmental
groups and local residents feared the impact the low-level radioactive
waste the refinery generates could have on the health of those living
nearby, and to the environment.

Lynas said its Malaysian subsidiary and LAMP have been the subject of four
independent scientific reviews, including two probes by the International
Atomic Energy (IAEA) and a report by the current Pakatan Harapan
Government’s independent scientific committee. All of them, it said, have
concluded that Lynas Malaysia is low risk and compliant with the country’s
laws and regulations in effect.

The company will face the fresh case against it on January 21.

 

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