Barely two weeks after Lynas (ASX:LYC) began production at its Malaysian processing plant in the face of protests and after a protracted legal battle, the Australian rare earths miner is once again in crisis.
The company's shares – down 40% in 2012 – have been suspended for the fourth time in five weeks following news that four Malaysian cabinet ministers in a joint statement ordered that all waste materials from its Lynas Advance Material Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan must be exported or its temporary licence will be revoked.
The A$1 billion company's intention was to stockpile or treat the radioactive waste on site. It cannot send the waste to produced at LAMP to Australia because laws in its home base prohibit it.
LAMP, when fully operational, could provide some 15–20% of global demand for rare earths and together with Molycorp (NYSE: MCP) in the US would break China's dominance of the industry.
Stock in Molycorp rose 5% on Tuesday building on massive 50% gains over the past month as investors bet it could have the non-Chinese rare earth trade all but to itself.
China currently produce upwards of 95% of all rare earths used in a variety of high-tech and green industries, but the country's rare earth miners face their own problems and many have suspended production amid falling prices.