PETALING JAYA: Australia has rejected a proposal for it to accept waste from the Lynas rare earths processing plant in Pahang, as the company awaits final confirmation on the status of its operating licence from the Malaysian government.
Western Australian mines minister Bill Johnston said importing waste from overseas is illegal under the country’s laws.
“We won’t accept waste from overseas,” he was quoted as saying by The Australian.
“Generally speaking the best place for contaminated material is where it comes from, which in this case would be in the mine void, but we are not going to take mine waste back from overseas,” he said.
The rare earths ore processed in Lynas’ plant in Gebeng comes from the Mt Weld mine in Australia.
Lynas has come under pressure from Malaysian government leaders who urged the company to comply with the energy, science, technology, environment and climate change ministry’s request to send back the water leach purification (WLP) waste to Australia before September, when its operating licence expires.
Meanwhile, The Australia quoted a Lynas spokesman as saying the company was in talks to meet the Malaysian government’s requirements. However, she said a review of its plant last year did not require the waste to be shipped out of the country.
“We have always been prepared to comply with the Pakatan Harapan government’s review committee’s recommendations on the management of WLP residue, including the building of a permanent disposal facility for existing WLP residue,” she said.