Lynas gets six-month operating licence extension, with conditions including overseas residue processing facility

Lynas has been slapped with four conditions as a prerequisite for its business here, including an order to build a ‘cracking and leaching’ facility overseas, to transfer said process from its current base in Gebeng, out of Malaysia. —  Reuters pic
Lynas has been slapped with four conditions as a prerequisite for its business here, including an order to build a ‘cracking and leaching’ facility overseas, to transfer said process from its current base in Gebeng, out of Malaysia. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 — Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd ‘s operating licence has been renewed for six months subject to several conditions from the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) today.

The rare earth mining company has been slapped with four conditions as a prerequisite for its business here, including an order to build a “cracking and leaching” facility overseas, to transfer said process from its current base in Gebeng, Kuantan, out of Malaysia.

In a statement today, AELB said that the said facility must also be built and start operating within four years from the date of the licence approval.

“After the cracking and leaching facility starts operating overseas, the licence holder is no longer allowed to produce radioactive residue exceeding 1 becquerel per gram in its plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.

“Lynas must also identify a specific lot to build the permanent disposal facility (PDF), and must submit a written consent from the state government for the usage of that lot as a PDF,” AELB said.

It added that the company must also submit its complete building plan for the PDF, as well as sufficient financing plan, to pay for the construction and operation of the PDF.

The AELB said that Lynas must also produce a written consent from the authority of any foreign nation to where it intends to ship out its Water Leach Purification (WLP) residue. 

Additionally, Lynas must also end all of its research and development (R&D) activities on the reusal of WLP as a condisoil in th agriculture sector, and pay 0.5 per cent from its annual gross sales initially allocated for its R&D purposes, to the Malaysia government, as a guarantee, until its foreign facility is in operation.

“These conditions were imposed after the Australian federal government and the Western Australia state government informed Malaysia that it would not accept Lynas’ WLP radioactive residue.

“The above conditions which were decided, is also on the recommendation of the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant’s Executive Evaluation Committee, in its November 2018 report,” the AELB said, adding that the construction of th PDF must also be hastened, to reduce the risks stemming from the radioactive residue deposition, which now measures a whoopiing 580,000 tonnes in Lynas’ residue storage facility, which is exposed to risks owing to natural disasters, such as a huge flood.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently confirmed the government was dropping its requirement for Lynas to repatriate its WLP residue as a precondition for its licence renewal due by September 1.

Instead, the firm was directed to explore a permanent disposal site to treat its rare-earths processing residue.

The decision was a departure from the ruling coalition’s insistence shortly after winning the general election that Australian mining firm must remove its WLP residue from the country.

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