Report: Western Australia won’t accept Lynas’ waste

Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston. (Facebook pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The West Australia (WA) government will not budge from its stand not to accept Lynas Corp’s low-level radioactive waste from Malaysia, its Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston has reiterated.

He indicated to the Australian media that Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin would be wasting her time when she visits Perth to discuss the matter.

Yeo, who has continued to push WA to accept some 450,000 tonnes of waste from the processing of rare earths stockpiled near the Lynas processing plant in Gebeng, Pahang, is scheduled to meet Johnston to discuss the issue on June 20.

The Lynas plant refines ore from a rare earths mine in WA.

The Australian Financial Review today quoted Johnson as saying: “They have asked for the meeting; that is up to them. Obviously, our position is very clear. We won’t take processed residuals from anywhere in the world.

“We are a massive exporter of raw materials and when they are processed overseas, they need to be dealt with overseas.”

According to the report, Lynas plans to build a cracking and leaching plant, either at its Mount Weld mine or on the outskirts of Kalgoorlie in WA’s Goldfields region, to remove radioactivity before rare earths material is sent to Kuantan for downstream processing.

The report said Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had given his blessing to “Lynas’ future” in Malaysia.

Mahathir was reported to have told the media in Japan last week: “Malaysia has had bad experience with radioactivity. Since then, we do not like radioactive material. Since Lynas produces radioactive material, we wanted them to ship out the radioactive material back to the country where the raw material comes from, but the country of origin does not want to accept it.

“We are going to talk to them but if we fail, of course we need to do something with the raw material — maybe spread it somewhere so that there is no concentrated radioactive material in one place, but we will allow Lynas to carry on, because otherwise we are going to lose a very big investment from Australia.”

Yeo, however, clarified on May 31 that Lynas would still have to resolve the issue of radioactive waste produced at its plant in Pahang before being allowed to continue operations, adding that Mahathir’s comments in Japan may have been misinterpreted.