Lynas gets green light to continue operating

Pakatan Harapan politicians and environmentalists have called for the closure of Lynas’ facility in Gebeng, Kuantan.

PETALING JAYA: Putrajaya has agreed to renew Lynas Corp’s licence to operate in Pahang, ending speculation on the fate of the rare earths processing plant which had been a subject of contention since the May 9 polls last year.

In a statement, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB), which comes under the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change, said it was giving a six-month licence to Lynas based on several conditions.

Among others, it said the company must build its “cracking and leaching” facility outside Malaysia within four years of the renewal, after which it would not be allowed to produce radioactive residue exceeding 1 becquerel per gramme at its plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.

It also said the company must identify a permanent disposal facility (PDF) with a written approval from the relevant state government, or get official permission from the authorities of any country to transferring its residue there.

“AELB will closely monitor and ensure that the construction and management of the PDF follow international standards,” the statement said.

Lynas had been embroiled in controversy for several years, with environmentalists and Pakatan Harapan politicians protesting against the plant on health grounds and calling for its closure.

The company repeatedly defended the safety of its processing plant in Gebeng, pointing to multiple reviews carried out by local and international agencies including the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency.

Cabinet members had been split on the licence renewal, with some voicing concern that the suspension of Lynas’ operations would have economic repercussions on Malaysia.

Several DAP leaders said they would continue their protests against Lynas, including by suing the company, if Putrajaya renews its licence.