Lynas must not be arrogant and must not speak too soon – Lynas’s luck at the moment is only due to an irresponsible BN government. But for how much longer?
The Australian Wall Street Journal report- “Rare treat as Lynas ready to put up the ‘sold out’ sign”
Sarah-Jane Tasker ? The Australian ? August 04, 2011 12:00AM ?
Lynas Corp’s rare earths mining operations in Mount Weld, Western Australia. Picture: Supplied Source: The Australian
RARE earths miner Lynas remains bullish on the future demand and strong price of its minerals and is close to putting up the “sold out” sign for the sought-after products.
Lynas executive chairman Nick Curtis, who was in Kalgoorlie yesterday for the annual Diggers and Dealers mining conference, said the company had already allocated about 70 per cent of its 11,000 million tonnes from stage one of its projects, but was leaving itself some room for flexibility.
“We are getting very close to putting up a sold out sign,” Mr Curtis said, adding that there was plenty of interest in the remaining offtake. “There are industrial companies examining their supply chain who are very interested in having strategic discussions about long-term relationships.”
Lynas today officially opens its Mt Weld mine in Western Australia, which Mr Curtis said was significant not just for the company but Australia. “The Mt Weld opening is a great milestone for us. It is the first rare earth mine to be opened in Australia, which shows that Australia has a diversity of minerals to supply its trading partners,” he said.
While the company is celebrated in Australia, it has faced vehement community opposition to its processing plant in Kuantan in central Malaysia.
A review by the International Atomic Energy Agency of the $US220 million ($204m) plant, commissioned by the Malaysian government to appease concerned residents, did not find any non-compliance with international safety standards, but did identify that the company needed to better engage with locals.
Mr Curtis said yesterday that engagement with communities in general had to be a lot higher than it was a decade ago.
He added that if the company had done enough community engagement originally it would not have faced the backlash it did.
“You have to cop that and say how do you improve. It is an ever shifting issue,” Mr Curtis said.
“One of the big things for us was we underestimated the power of social media in pushing this issue.”
Mr Curtis said he was comfortable with where the company was with its community engagement in Malaysia since the IAEA report was released.
“With the core of the community we are not seeing a problem. We are still seeing noise from some, but we are not seeing a major issue,” he said.
Despite the community opposition and reviews, Mr Curtis said he was confident the company would be in production in Malaysia by the end of the year, ready to cash in on historically high prices.
He said there was a structural deficit in the rare-earths market, which was likely to continue for five years because of dominant China reducing its exports.
“China is showing no real signs of increasing their export of rare earths,” he said.