By Yow Hong Chieh
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 – Lynas Corp has touted its committed investments in Malaysia following fresh protests against the Australian mining giant?s rare earth plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.
Lynas said today direct investment in the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) totalled RM618 million as of September 31 and pledged to pour in another RM700 million during the expansion phase.
It pointed out RM235 million of the initial investment had been awarded to Kuantan-based contractors and that nearly half of phase two investments would be spent on local subcontractors and materials.
“Human capital investments Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd is fully manned and managed by Malaysians except for the four rare earth operations experts from China,” Lynas said in a statement.
“The LAMP creates over 350 skilled permanent jobs, of which, 70 will need to be filled by university graduates with technical qualifications.”
Lynas Malaysia’s current payroll already stands at RM26 million per annum and a recent recruitment drive had drawn strong response from Malaysians willing to fill the job positions on offer, Lynas said.
It added that an additional 200 regular contract roles for Kuantan subcontractors would complement the 350 permanent positions on offer at the plant, the largest of its kind outside China.
The miner also said the rare earth plant would create up to 500 indirect jobs to service providers and contractors and cited two materials suppliers who would invest some RM200 million to supply LAMP.
“It is a first-class rare earths processing facility, which incorporates state-of-the art technology. It is the only processing plant of its kind in the world. The LAMP also sets new industry benchmarks in safety, environmental performance and shared value across the supply chain for a sustainable future,” Lynas said.
“Together, Malaysia and Lynas are building a stronger local economy with shared value and benefits.”
Some 1,000 people, led by Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh and Bersih chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, gathered in Kuantan over the weekend in protest against LAMP and a gold mining project in Bukit Koman, Raub.
The “Green Assembly 109”, comprising locals and representatives of non-governmental organisations, alleged that the two projects were environmentally hazardous and would harm public health.
Lynas has refuted the pollution claims, assuring Kuantan residents they would face “zero exposure” to radiation once operations get underway at its plant.
The RM700 million plant – which will extract rare earth metals crucial for high-technology products such as smartphones, hybrid cars and wind turbines – is expected to create a RM4 billion multiplier effect annually and create 350 skilled jobs, of which 99 per cent will be taken up by Malaysians.
But critics have questioned the real economic benefits of the project, pointing to the 12-year tax break Lynas will enjoy due to its pioneer status.
Putrajaya has defended the project as a strategic industry for Malaysia, in spite of the fears of radiation pollution that has arisen among local residents and environmentalists.
The government expects RM2.3 billion in investment spinoffs from the plant, including the RM300 million already poured into two factories in the Gebeng industrial zone that will produce the hydrochloric and sulphuric acids needed to extract rare earth metals.