KUALA LUMPUR, June 5 — The Western Australian (WA) state government has refused to take back 450,000 tonnes of radioactive waste stockpiled at Lynas Corp’s rare earths processing plant in Kuantan, Pahang.
Minister of Mines and Petroleum Bill Johnston has written to the Malaysian government explaining why WA won’t accept the waste from the Australian rare earth metals producer and has insisted that his government won’t budge, according to the Australian Financial Review.
Johnston is scheduled to meet Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Yeo Bee Yin on June 20.
“They have asked for the meeting, that is up to them,” he was quoted in the Australian Financial Review.
“Obviously our position is very clear. We won’t take processed residuals from anywhere in the world.
“We are a massive exporter of raw materials and when they are processed overseas, they need to be dealt with overseas.”
As negotiations continue, the Australian Financial Review reported that Lynas has plans to build a cracking and leaching plant to remove radioactive material from its rare earths ore by expanding its Mt. Weld mine north-west of Perth, amid escalating trade tensions between the US and China.
The rare earth producer however has yet to lodge a formal proposal for a WA-based processing facility.
Johnston confirmed these reports and said he had preliminary talks with Lynas about its plans for an on-shore cracking and leaching plant.
"There is a regulatory process and that has to be run through, but I'm confident that we could come up with a solution to allow the project to proceed," he was quoted in the Australian Financial Review.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said during his visit to Japan last week that Lynas will be allowed to continue to operate in this country as Malaysia would otherwise lose a very big investment from Australia.
Yeo, however, suggested that reports on Dr Mahathir’s remarks may not have focused on his actual stand on the matter.
“I saw the (video) clip of Dr Mahathir’s interview, then I realised actually his position is, Lynas has to ship out its waste, his answer was very long, most of the time he was talking about waste, but unexpectedly the focus was blurred, so actually the government is still very concerned about the issue of waste,” she said in an interview during 8TV’s Global Watch programme on May 31.