Australian rare earths miner Lynas has stated that it would explore all options, including legal options, after the Malaysian government set new conditions for the renewal of the company’s licence to operate in the country.
Lynas operates the Mount Weld rare earths mine in Western Australia. Raw materials from the mine are sent to the company’s $800m refining facility in Kuantan, Malaysia, for processing. This facility has been operational since 2012.
The company’s two licences for operations in Malaysia are set to expire next year. The licence for the temporary storage of radioactive waste is up for renewal in September, while the licence for non-radioactive waste storage is valid until February.
Local residents have been protesting against the refinery operations. The government carried out an environmental review of the plant and established new conditions pertaining to waste management, including the export of radioactive residue and the submission of an action plan for the disposal of its non-radioactive residue.
The review committee recommended the identification and construction of a permanent disposal facility (PDF) for the radioactive waste.
Commenting on the condition requiring the export of waste residue, Lynas stated: “This pre-condition is inconsistent with the review committee’s recommendation that Lynas Malaysia should determine the location of and build a PDF for the WLP residue, including identifying sites for PDF construction, before the renewal of the licence.
“The Review Committee noted that Lynas should be prepared to export WLP residues from Malaysia only if the PDF location is not identified or approved. Lynas’ licence conditions explicitly state that residues should be recycled, and if that fails, then they should be stored in a PDF. Export should only be considered if a PDF is not possible.”
Other recommendations include the establishment of safe storage sites for non-radioactive residues and the preparation of an environmental impact assessment.