Lynas pledges removal of radioactive waste from Australian rare earths

Lynas says it will spend RM1.5 billion on changes in its operations in Gebeng, Kuantan. (Facebook pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Lynas today reiterated its commitment to its operations in Malaysia and to removing naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) from rare earths in Australia.

It said it will spend about RM1.5 billion on changes in its operations in Gebeng, Kuantan, adding that it is committed to playing its role as a rare earths centre of excellence.

In a statement, Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Lynas) managing director and vice-president Mashal Ahmad said the company was committed to relocating the cracking and leaching process to Australia over the next five years.

He said the company had identified two potential processing sites, close to its mine in Western Australia.

“We have listened to the Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and we understand that Malaysia would prefer that our first stage processing takes place before our material is shipped to the country for further processing.

“The first stage is where our rare earths are removed from the low level, naturally occurring radioactive material they are found alongside,” he said.

Mashal said once the new plant was operational, the material shipped to Malaysia for processing would not include naturally occurring radioactive material.

“Around one-third of Lynas Malaysia’s employees currently work in cracking and leaching.

“So, we will invest in additional downstream processing in Malaysia to create new jobs and ensure all of our people have opportunities to grow with the company,” he said.

Marshal said the government and local communities in Australia were supportive of the move.

He said the changes in operation would cost about RM1.5 billion but the company was committed to playing its role as a rare earths centre of excellence.

Matrshal said Lynas Malaysia’s staff was 97% Malaysian.

“We are proud to be leading the industry as a sustainable and responsible producer of rare earths and in keeping with our licence conditions and industry best practices, we have invested in research into the safe reuse of the residues we generate,” he said.