By Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 – Lynas Corp will ship its rare earth ore to Kuantan this month despite not having met government requirements to do so, PKR vice president Fuziah Salleh said today.
The Kuantan MP, who has led protests against the Australian miner’s controversial RM1.3 billion refinery, said the Kuantan Port Consortium told land occupants of the port area “that Malaysia can expect the rare earth oxide from Mount Weld to arrive in Kuantan by the end of this month.”
She said this was mentioned in the monthly Health Safety and Environment Committee meeting held last week.
This comes despite Lynas not having fulfilled the 11 conditions recommended by an expert review panel from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Putrajaya have adopted.
The federal government has said that “there will be no importation of raw materials into the country, and no operational activities will be allowed on site” until Lynas meets the conditions.
Among others, these include a comprehensive, long-term and detailed plan for waste management that extended to the decommissioning and remediation levels.
As of yesterday, local regulators Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) said that it has received the waste management plan but has yet to analyse it.
“I do not consider it submitted until we make sure it is in accordance with international standards,” AELB director-general Raja Datuk Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan was quoted as saying.
“Lynas Corp must not be allowed to bully us Malaysian, neither the citizens, nor the authorities. They have been behaving as if this is their father’s country,” Fuziah told reporters today.
The rare earth refinery being built in the Gebeng industrial zone has raised fears of radiation pollution among local residents and environmental activists.
But the mining giant has gone ahead with a deal with Thai engineering firm to complete a second phase of the plant by the last quarter of 2012, subject to approval from local authorities.
Lynas says that its plant – which will extract rare earth metals crucial for high-technology products like smartphones, hybrid cars and wind turbines – will create a RM4 billion multiplier effect annually and 350 jobs for skilled workers.
Although reports say the plant may earn RM8 billion for Lynas, critics have questioned the real economic benefit 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 and expects RM2.3 billion in investment spinoffs from the plant.
This includes 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.