(Updates with closing share price in fifth paragraph.)
Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) — Lynas Corp., an Australian rare earths developer, said it’s near to completing its Malaysian refinery and will be ready to receive concentrate in the first quarter of 2012, pending regulatory approvals.
“We are in the final stages of the regulatory approvals process in Malaysia,” Nicholas Curtis, chairman of the Sydney- based company said today in a statement. “We have submitted all the requested documentation and the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board is now reviewing those documents ahead of making a decision.”
Malaysia imposed tighter environmental safety standards on the proposed plant in June following protests by local residents concerned about radiation. Shares in Lynas have dropped 39 percent since the June ruling, compared with the 13 percent decline in the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index.
Once in production, the plant will provide an alternative source of rare earths to China, which currently produces more than 90 percent of global supply of the 17 chemically similar elements used in magnets, hybrid cars and iPods. China has restricted rare-earth mining and cut exports to conserve resources and protect the environment.
Lynas climbed 3 percent to A$1.215 at the close of trading in Sydney.
–Editors: Rebecca Keenan, Keith Gosman
To contact the reporter on this story: Elisabeth Behrmann in Sydney at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rebecca Keenan at email@example.com
(Nanyang Siang Pau dated 15th November 2011) Lynas rare earth refinery plant PR executive Shariza said, if nothing goes wrong, the plant will be in operation in December, and will start exporting finished goods by April next year.
He told “Nanyang Siang Pau” the plant is still in the construction, the management acts according to the regulations required by the government.
However, the plant has yet to obtain the operating license.
It is understood that foreign investors or their representatives frequently visit the rare earth refinery plant to inspect the construction schedule. Yesterday, there were 43 shareholders visited the plant by air-conditioned bus to make a tour of inspection.
Shariza said: “it’s common for shareholders and customers to do routine inspection, including the investors from Japan.”
He said the rare earth materials has yet to transport from Australia Mt. Weld to Malaysia, “according to general procedure, unrefined rare earth raw materials must be selected and tested during arrival, before refining into finished goods.”
“The soil beneath our feet also has the radioactive thorium, and Lynas Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. just refines the rare earth raw materials into finished products, by supplying them to various fields as material.”
Catch the latest progress of the ETP. Watch the replay here.
Founder … the executive chairman of Lynas, Nick Curtis.?Photo: AP
IN AUGUST 2008, the high-flying Lynas Corporation offered to pay $US500,000 to a South African geologist, Michael Saner, if Saner would drop his claim over a rare earths deposit in Malawi.
That’s according to Saner. Citing a confidentiality agreement, Lynas has declined to comment.
Lynas had already told the market that it had ”acquired” this rare earths resource a year earlier, in September 2007.
Fast forward three years. Although Saner never relinquished his claim, and has a Malawi High Court order stating the rights to this deposit cannot go to anybody else, it was only last Thursday that Lynas finally disclosed, and even then rather cryptically, that the ownership of its Malawi asset might be in dispute.
In 2008, Lynas, a ”market darling” of the resources sector, was taking off.
The vision of its founder, Nick Curtis, to become a global player in rare earths had already enticed the likes of Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and the Capital Group to the share register.
Privately, Curtis’s backers were already ascribing billion-dollar values to the company and the rare earths deposit at Mount Weld in Western Australia.
And there was more blue sky still. Curtis and his corporate wingman, Dr Matthew James, had put their foot on a rich rare earths deposit in the landlocked African republic of Malawi.
The rub was that, according to the highest legal authority in Malawi, this Kangankunde (KGK) prospect didn’t actually belong to them. Enter Michael Saner.
At a meeting in Lynas’s Sydney offices on August 21, 2008, the South African geologist explained to James, Lynas’s counsel, Andrew Arnold, geologist Matthew Edler and Curtis – who got to the meeting later – how the transfer of the KGK licence had not been legal.
Saner says he showed the Lynas executives an order from the High Court of Blantyre in 2006 which prohibited the issue of any mining rights over KGK to anyone except Saner himself.
He went on to explain to them how Lynas had acquired its ”rights” from a Malawian furniture entrepreneur Tony Patel, who held them illegally.
Then, according to Saner, who spoke to BusinessDay over the weekend, Lynas offered to pay him $US350,000 and then $US500,000 if he would relinquish his High Court claim over the KGK tenements.
Saner refused. The dispute is now subject to letters flying back and forth between London law firm Mishcon de Reya, which acts for Saner, and Clifford Chance, for Lynas.
There is another party in the fray, the London geologist and chairman and chief executive of Anglo-African Minerals, Michael Smith.
Smith and his colleagues are minority shareholders in Saner’s Rift Valley Resource Development.
For its part, Lynas has a more powerful ally, at least for the moment. That is the Malawi government.
Before announcing the Malawi licence in September 2007, the Minister of Mines flew to Australia to visit Lynas.
Moreover, the man who sold them the ”rights” to KGK, Patel, is closely associated with the previous president of the republic, Bakili Muluzi.
The government has so far ignored the orders of its High Court and has not reinstated Saner’s EPL (exclusive prospecting right) over the deposit. It remains in court.
The Malawi Ministry of Mines had issued a mining licence to Patel in May 2003, although Patel never held an EPL. Three years later, Patel sold the ”rights” to Lynas.
For Malawi itself – a country bisected from north to south by the Great Rift Valley, this deal is a national headache. Although it desperately needs foreign capital, it also needs to project the rule of law to attract exploration and investment.
The contretemps between Saner and Lynas are also a rift between the legislative and executive arms of the government. Again in 2010 the High Court upheld Saner’s rights to KGK by granting an injunction against the Malawian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.
That injunction prohibits the granting of a mineral rights licence for KGK to any party other than Saner. It grants him costs, too. Saner was first awarded the rights to KGK in 2000.
Saner says Lynas knew about the legal dispute over the tenements from July 2008. Lynas is not party to any action.
A spokesman for Lynas said it could not respond to questions about what it knew at what time, or of any details of the August 2007 meeting, as it was bound by a confidentiality agreement.
If two-headed chickens and zebra-striped bananas tantalize your tastebuds, then check out what Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh is cooking on Youtube.
PETALING JAYA: A short and dark comedy about the controverstal Lynas plant has been posted on YouTube and stars none other than its chief opponent Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh.
Entitled “Masakan Cinta (Love Dish)”, the 4:44-minute comedy sees the PKR leader playing the role of “Chef Wani”, a friendly TV chef who goes out of her way to cut out radiation from her cooking ingredients.
“This morning, I went to the wet market, and got all these fresh ingredients for our special dinner tonight… Here, we have free range village chicken,” she says, before pointing to a two-headed, three-legged bird.
Most of the cooking material on “Chef Wani’s” table also appear to have been mutated by radiation, including a squid with a fish head, prawns with elongated tentacles and zebra-striped bananas.
She then tells the camera that special cooking tools are needed to remove the “dangerous radiation” from the food, and brings out a chopper, peeler and hacksaw.
“Watch closely how I gut out all the dangerous parts of this chicken,” Chef Wani says, before she beats the carcass with her rolling pin, and saws it apart, guts and all.
Accompanied by cheery background music, she also saws a goat’s head and crushes the bananas into pulp.
“This carrot, we have to get rid of all the radioactive bits from it, if not, we cannot eat. We need to get rid of the thorium, uranium, mutanium, monsterium, lukemium.”
“Anything that ends with an ‘ium’ we have to get rid of before we eat,” she adds.
Eventually, Chef Wani groups the “radioactive” bits into a pile and pushes it off the table. She then sets about to cook, and serves the end result – five black specks – to her guests.
She also serves her confused dinner guests – which include Subang MP R Sivarasa- with a strange looking cordial.
Speaking to FMT, Fuziah said the film is the first in a series entitled “Survival Guide Untuk Kampong Radioaktif”.
“The producers wanted to use comedy as a means to start some awareness about Lynas and hope to create some interest (within the public) about finding out about Lynas,” she added.
Fuziah was referring to the controversial rare earth plant operated by Australian mining giant Lynas Corporation Ltd in Gebeng, near Kuantan.
Critics of the plant have denounced it as a radiation leak risk, especially with operations due to commence by 2012.
Some residents in the area fear that the running of the plant may see a repeat of the 1987 Bukit Merah disaster, where a leak resulted in cases of leukaemia, followed by seven deaths.
Today, the Bukit Merah refinery is undergoing a clean-up process worth RM300 million.
The Kuantan MP said there is not enough awareness over Lynas. “There is an interest, but a lot of people depend on hearsay. Especially with the Malay community who only have access to the mainstream media,” she added.
She also explained that “Masakan Cinta” was made on a pro-bono basis.
“Initially, I wasn’t keen on acting, because people can misinterpret the film, and then use it to spin and discredit me.
“But it’s a comedy, and everything in it is overexaggerated. The idea (behind it), is to go through so much pain for your guests,” Fuziah said with a laugh.
According to its Facebook page, “Survival Guide Untuk Kampong Radioaktif” consists of four short parodies “set in a fictional world where radioactive activities have all gone wrong”.