PETALING JAYA: Australian rare earth company Lynas claims it is working on promoting Malaysia as an investment destination by engaging with downstream customers.
One of the company’s efforts in that direction, according to chief executive Amanda Lacaze, is to lobby to have the 16th International Rare Earths Conference held in Malaysia.
Usually held in Hong Kong, the conference gathers upstream and downstream captains of industry from the US, Europe, China, Japan and Australia.
Lacaze told FMT the downstream firms her company was engaging were monitoring to see what would happen to Lynas in Malaysia.
“Investors look at the stability of an environment,” she said. “If something disruptive happens to Lynas, then the downstream players will be less enthusiastic. They may make a different decision as to where they invest.”
She said Lynas was confident it could meet the conditions set by Putrajaya for its licence renewal.
Critics of the company have continued to speak out against it, but Lacaze said Malaysia was still a good place from which to operate owing to its political stability, access to key input, skilled workforce, proximity to the market and excellent port facilities.
She said China, which has dominated the rare earth industry for decades, had used its upstream industry to build the downstream industry and thereby created a lot of skilled jobs.
“We think Malaysia is well placed to do this too,” she added.
She said the downstream industry was primed for growth because rare earths are used extensively in various industries, including the automotive and electronics sector and the renewable energy sector.
She noted that China had spoken of the possibility of using its domination of rare earths as a weapon in its trade war with the US.
As a result, she said, there had been a sharpening of the focus on the supply of rare earths from outside China.
“This provides a fantastic opportunity for Malaysia to play a very strategic role in helping supply governments and industries around the world with rare earths.”