PETALING JAYA: A federal minister says the government’s decision to allow Lynas Malaysia to explore a permanent disposal facility was a step in the right direction as a means of resolving the issue of rare-earths waste.
Speaking to FMT, Entrepreneur Development Minister Redzuan Yusof said he was also glad that there would be clarity on the status of the renewal of Lynas’ operating license as this was something investors were keenly observing.
“I’ve met investors from high-value industries who want to come in and set up shop here because they want to be close to Lynas as rare earths are key to their industries. The problem is that they are not sure if Lynas will still be around and this is bad for investment.”
One of these companies, he said, was a US-based battery maker for energy efficient vehicles, which wanted to set up a US$2 billion plant in Malaysia, creating thousands of high-value jobs.
Redzuan said the government would never compromise on the safety and health of the people, but acknowledged the uphill task of disproving the allegations made against Lynas by its critics.
“The PH-led government’s high-level review committee has certified the safety of Lynas’ operations. Even the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency has said so. I think it is important for all parties not to be emotional and to look at the scientific facts.”
He added that investors may be hesitant about coming to Malaysia if the scientific facts were to be ignored.
“If Lynas has been following the rules, then how can we treat them differently? If we do that, then other big companies will wonder if they are next.”
A decision on whether the government will renew the operating licence for the Lynas plant is expected by Aug 15. Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had recently indicated that the export of the waste residue would not be a condition for renewal of the licence, while energy minister Yeo Bee Yin responded positively to a decision to let Lynas explore a disposal facility.
Lynas had also confirmed it has deposited US$42 million (RM175 million) to fund a long-term residue management solution.