Lynas Receives a Temporary License for Rare Earths Plant in Malaysia

Lynas Corp.’s Advanced Materials plant covers an area 0.8 km wide and 1.4 km long. (Photo courtesy of Lynas Corp.)
Lynas Corp. reported in early September 2012 that the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) issued a Temporary Operating Licence (TOL) for the Lynas Advanced Materials plant (LAMP) in Pahang, Malaysia. Subsequently, on September 25, Lynas reported that the Kuantan High Court had decided to hear on October 4, 2012, an application by parties associated with the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas group for an injunction in respect of the TOL. Parties associated with the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas group have, on several occasions in the past, unsuccessfully sought orders similar to the requested injunction, before the Kuala Lumpur High Court and the Malaysian Court of Appeal. Lynas said it believed and would argue that the basis for the other courts declining to grant such an injunction remains valid.

Lynas is an Australian company head-quartered in Sydney. Its Malaysian plant was essentially completed during the first half of 2012 and is designed to process rare earths oxides concentrate produced at Lynas’s newly developed Mount Weld mine and concentrator 35 km south of Laverton, Western Australia. Issuance of the TOL was delayed by a series of court actions by indi-viduals living near the plant, who had con-cerns about the potential impact of the plant on the environment.

“Receiving this license from the AELB is a significant milestone for Lynas,” Lynas Executive Chairman Nicholas Curtis said. “The TOL provides additional validation of the safety of Lynas’ operations in Malaysia and supports the previous assessment by the world’s pre-eminent radiation safety authority, the International Atomic Energy Agency, that the LAMP is safe and fully compliant with international standards.

As of mid-year 2012, more than 13,000 dry mt of concentrate containing more than 4,800 mt of rare earth oxides were bagged and ready for export from Mount Weld. Receipt of the TOL for the Malaysian plant, assuming it remains in effect, enables Lynas to begin to transport the concentrate and to complete necessary steps to prepare for first feed to kiln, which was expected in October.

The AELB will monitor the plant’s oper-ations and adherence to prescribed safety standards. Compliance with those stan-dards will be the criteria for conversion of the TOL to a full operating license during the next two years.

The LAMP is located in the Gebeng Industrial Estate in Pahang. Initial produc-tion capacity is 11,000 mt/y of separated rare earths oxides, with provision for expan-sion to 22,000 mt/y. Factors that influ-enced Lynas to select the site for the plant included close proximity to the Kuantan deep-water, all-weather port; location of established manufacturers of key chemical reagents within the Gebeng Industrial Estate; access to a highly skilled and com-petitive labor force; and excellent infra-structure, including chemical, water, elec-tricity and gas supplies.

As featured in Womp 2012 Vol 10 -