Free Malaysia Today – Decision on Lynas’ licence may be postponed

Stephanie Sta Maria
January 12, 2012

AELB expects to spend more time on public feedback and says it may not reach a decision by Jan 30.

DENGKIL: Lynas Corporation’s hope of hearing a decision on the issuance of a pre-operating licence for its rare earth plant on Jan 30 may be dashed after the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) today said that it may need more time to discuss the matter.

In a press statement last week, Lynas stated that the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) indicated that the AELB will meet at the end of the month for a decision on the licence.

However, AELB director-general Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan today clarified that while the board will meet on the abovementioned date, the subject of a pre-operating licence may not be discussed.

“It will be a regular board meeting and we?re not convening specifically over Lynas,” he told FMT when met at the AELB headquarters this morning. “We have many issues to discuss and Lynas’ pre-operating licence is just part of a larger agenda.”

Aziz explained that two reports are in the midst of being drawn up by AELB’s Special Technical Committee and a Public Consultative Committee.

Both reports are based on the Australian mining giant’s 300-page application permit which is on display for public viewing for two weeks until Jan 17.

The reports are expected to be submitted to AELB by Jan 23 and will be considered alongside public feedback from the viewing sessions.

“The board needs more than one week to review these reports and I need to carry out a verification process so we may not be ready by Jan 30,” Aziz said.

“It’s possible that the decision may be postponed to our next board meeting in March or perhaps before that. But I don’t want to specify a date because we cannot rush this process,” he added.

Stringent conditions

Aziz’s statement will lay to rest concerns aired by Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh over Lynas’ preceived role as spokesperson for the Malaysian government.

Earlier this week, Fuziah, who strongly opposes the Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP), noted that neither Miti nor the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry have announced of a decision taking place on Jan 30.

“Lynas is making statements on behalf of Miti and Malaysian government agencies in a situation where the agencies concerned have been silent,” she stated.

But Aziz pointed out that there is no reason to announce the upcoming board meeting as it is a regular meeting and one of many scheduled for the year.

Lynas recently made an unprecedented decision to make its application permit available to the public in a move to quell the rising criticism against its plant and operations.

However, its stringent conditions on the document viewing has drawn more flak from the public who have accused it of being insincere in public consultation over the matter.

The public was originally given only an hour per person to view the permit although this has since been extended to three hours.

No mobile devices or cameras are allowed into the room either which prompted anti-Lynas groups to hand-copy the entire document over a period of 56 hours.

While scores of people are reported to have thronged the Pahang state secretariat to view the document, only 21 people have shown up at the Dengkil headquarters since Jan 3.

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