Lynas heading for full rare earths ramp-up

Australian rare earths producer Lynas (ASX:LYC) said Thursday that it is close to generating steady output at its recently commissioned Malaysian processing plant and that it expects to reach its initial rate target by December.

Investors apparently shrugged off the news, with the Sydney-based company's shares falling 7% to close at 13 cents.

The firm has struggled to increase output due to production problems at its Lynas Advance Material PlantĀ (LAMP) in Malaysia. Construction of the plant began in November 2011 but the facility faced fierce opposition for years.

Lynas, one of only two miners of the coveted elements outside China, has also been plagued by financial difficulties.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the company will relocate its head office to Kuala Lumpur as part of fresh efforts to cut costs and streamline operations.

The newspaper said the move will result in an unspecified number of layoffs.

"I am very focused on addressing those areas of our business where we have been underperforming," Amanda Lacaze, the company's new chief executive, was quoted by the newspaper as saying. "I have reviewed the business with the team and we have identified opportunities to improve cost, production and financial performance."

The Aussie miner is not the only firm facing challenges to increasing rare earth output. U.S. producer Molycorp (NYSE:MCP), which together with Lynas accounts for the bulk of rare earths outside China, has also been under pressure to expand capacity.

China, the world's primary supplier of the metals used in electronics, missiles and cars, restricts its rare earths exports, driving up demand.