‘Antics’ of critics have driven away investments, says Lynas

Lynas chief executive Amanda Lacaze speaks in an interview with FMT.

KUALA LUMPUR: Lynas Malaysia says it is ready and willing to lend its expertise in the development of a holistic ecosystem for industries using Natural Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) as proposed by Putrajaya’s review committee on its operations.

However, it cautioned that the “antics” of critics could hamper the growth of downstream industries.

In an interview with FMT, Lynas chief executive Amanda Lacaze said the company welcomed the committee’s findings and recommendations.

She noted that the review committee in its report acknowledged that NORM-related high-tech industries would experience rapid growth in the future, and that the government should view the matter holistically to create a suitable ecosystem.

The review committee said this ecosystem should be supported by laws, governance, education, talent development, research and development, innovation, and ethics to meet international standards.

Lacaze said Lynas could contribute in this area as it had always complied with international standards and best practices in its operations. She also pointed out that it was the only producer of processed rare earths material outside of China.

“We think it is really important to develop rare earths downstream industries here because now these industries are in China. Lynas can provide a strong foundation for this in Malaysia.

“If you want a third national car, an electric car industry, you need rare earths. You can’t have an automotive industry without rare earths because every single car on the road has rare earths in it.”

Lacaze said rare earths were present in internal combustion engines, hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles, and that the application of rare earths would continue to increase with the advancement of technology.

She said it was important to have a rare earths industry in Malaysia as rare earths were becoming increasingly crucial in the global supply chain.

But the actions of those opposed to Lynas, whose claims she said were not based on scientific facts, could throw a spanner in the works, she added.

“When you talk about magnetic materials, magnet making is the next serious technical stage within the global supply chain.

“Lynas has on three different occasions courted magnet makers to invest in Malaysia, and each time, the antics of the anti-Lynas crowd has made them step back.”

Lacaze previously told FMT that arguments from those who criticised Lynas over alleged environmental hazards were not based on science and served only to scare members of the public.

She said the company’s operations had already been reviewed eight times, twice by the International Atomic Energy Agency, a parliamentary select committee, in four court cases and, most recently, by the new government’s review committee.

“The review committee recognised that Lynas is intrinsically low-risk and that we have management practices which further mitigate this risk,” she said.