A Malaysian court dismissed an appeal against a temporary operating licence for Lynas Corp (ASX:LYC), an Australian rare earth miner, despite residents' opposition over alleged radioactive hazards, Channel New Asia reports.
The decision enables the Sydney-based company to continue operations at its $800 million Lynas Advance Material Plant (LAMP) in the eastern town of Kuantan.
Lynas secured the licence in early September and began production on November 30. But, barely two weeks after that, four Malaysian cabinet ministers ordered in a joint statement that all waste materials from LAMP had to be exported or Lynas’ temporary licence would be revoked.
Critics of the project believe the refinery will jeopardize Malaysia’s well being and pollute the surroundings. Supporters argue that the plant can help stabilize rare earth prices, as it is the first in years outside China.
In September a Malaysian court dismissed an application by the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas group to block Lynas's operating licence, but legal challenges are ongoing.
Hon Kai Ping, a lawyer representing the activists, said a higher court had fixed February 5 to hear an application to revoke the Australian miner's licence.
In late November 10,000 people marched bare feet in the capital Kuala Lumpur to protest the opening of the refinery.
Lynas has said that by early 2013 the plant will be able to supply 22,000 tons of rare earth concentrates per year, 15–20% of the global demand for rare earths.
Image: Protest against Lynas’ plant, by nksyoon.