Exporting residue a last option, says Lynas Malaysia

The government wants Lynas to ship out WLP (water leached purification) residue from Malaysia. (Lynas pic)

PETALING JAYA: Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd today clarified that the requirement for the company to export its water leached purification (WLP) residue from Malaysia was a last option stipulated by the country’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB).

In a statement, the rare earth processing plant said that when AELB issued three operating licences, namely a temporary operating licence and two full operating stage licences, between 2012 and 2016, it required Lynas to carry out research on the safe use of the WLP residue generated.

And if Lynas Malaysia is unable to re-use the WLP residue, it must “site, construct and build a PDF (permanent disposal facility) to store the WLP residue”.

”Only if these two options fail will Lynas be required to export the WLP out of Malaysia,” the statement read.

Lynas Malaysia was responding to Putrajaya’s defence of its decision to revoke the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) permit if it fails to remove its radioactive waste from Malaysia.

About 1,000 direct and 4,000 indirect jobs would be impacted if the facility’s licence is not renewed.

Yesterday, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin cited two letters, dated Feb 23, 2012 and March 6, 2012, which indicated the commitment by Lynas Australia and Lynas Malaysia to remove LAMP residues from Malaysia, if necessary.

“I would like you to know that I did not ask more than what your employer had committed back in 2012.

“Therefore, it is my hope that Lynas will honour its word and start the process of shipping out WLP (water leached purification) residue from Malaysia,” she said in a statement in response to a plea by Lynas employees in Gebeng, Kuantan, who fear losing their jobs if LAMP shuts down.

About 130 workers held a demonstration outside the Parliament building on Tuesday, urging the government to save their jobs.

Lynas disputes price tag to export residue

On a related matter, Lynas Malaysia disputed media reports over the cost of exporting WLP residue, saying Yeo’s estimates “appear to be based on a misquote of the views of an analyst”.

The analyst’s original report, it said, noted that these figures were only a rough estimate.

It also noted that the analyst had referenced the Lynas security deposit paid to the Malaysian government’s AELB, meant for the construction of a permanent deposit facility.

“In reaching his view, the analyst had assumed that this deposit would be used to pay for some of the costs of exporting WLP, on the basis that a permanent deposit facility would no longer be required.”

Yeo had yesterday said it would cost Lynas Corporation Ltd (Lynas) A$14 million (RM42 million) to take out the WLP residue.

She based the figure on the report by the Australian Financial Review last week, which said a major portion of the A$46 million cost to export the residue, could be claimed via the insurance company of the rare earth mining company.