Lynas hits another bump in Malaysia

(The Age) – Lynas has been forced into its fourth trading halt in a month after the Malaysian government called on the Australian rare earths miner to export all its waste generated by the plant.


The miner requested the halt ahead of an announcement by the company following comments by four Malaysian government ministers released yesterday demanding that Lynas remove all the residue or face having its temporary licence revoked.


“Should Lynas fail to comply with this condition, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) is empowered under section 22 of the Atomic Energy Licensing Act 1984 (Act 304), to suspend or revoke the TOL and order Lynas to cease operations,” the statement released by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry said, the New Straits Times newspaper reported.


“The government will not compromise the health and safety of the people and the environment, in dealing with the issue of Lynas.”


Shares in Lynas’s closest rival, the US-based Molycorp, surged 20 per cent in New York in reaction to the news – the biggest one-day jump since it listed.


The statement followed local reports that Lynas’s Malaysian managing director, Mashal Ahmad, had said the waste products from the Kuantan plant could not be exported because of international laws, the Times stated.


But Lynas said yesterday in Malaysia the reports were inaccurate and that it would convert the residue into a commercially safe product called Synthetic Aggregate, which would then be exported to other countries.


The Australian company has faced political and legal troubles in Malaysia over the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP). Lynas started production at the controversial plant in late November.


A Lynas spokesman declined to provide further comment ahead of the company’s announcement.


Lynas has shot to prominence as Australia’s challenge to China’s monopoly on global production of rare earths, a group of metallic elements of strategic importance due to its vital role in the manufacture of rechargeable batteries, wind turbines and tablets.


Shares in Lynas have plunged more than 60 per cent since February as a result of the extended delays and uncertainty surrounding the project. Lynas shares

last traded at 60.5 cents.


Before the latest setback, there were signs the company had turned a corner after what the company said were decisive court victories over Malaysian activists.


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