KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — The government must revoke the temporary operating licence (TOL) issued to Australian miner Lynas Corporation for its controversial rare earth plant in Kuantan, local environmental activists have said.
“Today, Himpunan Hijau together with Stop Lynas Coalition (SLC) and Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) call upon the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Maximus Ongkili (picture), to immediately withdraw the temporary operating licence (TOL) that has been wrongly issued to Lynas,” Himpunan Hijau’s national steering committee said in a statement yesterday
The group claimed that there are many “irregularities” in the approval and issuing of the TOL to Lynas.
“We suspect the decision by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) to issue the TOL is either due to pressure or has been induced by certain quarters.
“Ongkili must realise that it is his responsibility and duty to stop such an improper practice. It is within his jurisdiction as a minister to do so,” Himpunan Hijau said.
Ongkili had in June decided that there was “no strong justification” for him to set aside AELB’s January 30 decision to award the TOL, following an appeal by three Kuantan residents to the minister.
“We want an immediate and decisive action from MOSTI (Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation) to cancel the TOL. Failing to do so, Himpunan Hijau will mobilise thousands to meet Ongkili at his MOSTI office.”
A complaint about the “irregularity” will be made to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the group said, adding that it expects a “thorough investigation”.
Himpunan Hijau also warned Lynas investors including Sojitz Corp that “thousands of people” have registered to join its blockade campaign.
The group was referring to its plans to block Kuantan port to prevent Lynas from shipping in rare earth ore to the country.
It said that Malaysians “are very determined to stop Lynas”, saying: “We will carry out an all-out war to ensure that the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) can never operate in our country.”
On Tuesday, the Kuantan High Court froze the TOL for one week until the October 4 hearing for an application to permanently suspend the licence, causing Lynas shares to drop by 8 per cent.
There are two judicial review cases in the Kuantan High Court where five Kuantan residents are challenging the federal government’s decision to award a TOL to the Australian miner.
SLC recently failed in its bid to get leave from the Court of Appeal for another judicial review of AELB’s decision to grant a TOL to Lynas.
The TOL Lynas received weeks ago from Malaysian authorities has paved the way for its rare earth plant to begin operations despite widespread public protests over safety and environmental concerns.
Lynas said it would begin transporting and completing all steps to prepare enriching the rare earth ore mined in Australia by October.
The TOL allows Lynas to operate for a period of two years beginning September 3.
The AELB had emphasised that Lynas must adhere to all requirements and conditions imposed by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation through the Atomic Energy Licensing Act.