Lynas jumps after winning temporary extension for Malaysia rare earth plant

Shares in rare earths producer Lynas Corporation (ASX:LYC) jumped more than 8% on Monday, after being allowed to continue storing waste materials at its plant in Malaysia, and rallied again Tuesday as the environment ministry confirmed the temporary permit extension.

The ministry said Tuesday the Australian miner could continue using its plant until February 15, adding that the additional time granted to the company would facilitate a review of its operations.

Lynas, one of the world’s main suppliers of rare earths outside China, has been under scrutiny by the country's new government over fears that its processing plant in Kuantan is harmful to locals and the environment.

Lynas, the only major rare earths miner outside China, extracts the metallic elements in Western Australia, but processes them in Malaysia.

Earlier this month, the Sydney-based miner raised concerns about the impartiality of a couple of members of the committee reviewing its operations, as both are known for being long time opponents of having the refinery in Malaysia.

The company’s concerns led to minister Fuziah Salleh, who chaired the inquiry group, stepping down and the committee letting Lynas to continue storing residues at the plant, while it awaits a decision on a longer-term application.

The six-year-old facility — known as the Lynas Advance Material Plant (LAMP) — was the centre of relentless attacks from environmental groups and local residents while under construction in 2012. They feared about the impact the low-level radioactive waste the refinery generates could have on the health of those living nearby and the environment.

Lynas mines rare earths, crucial in the production of magnets, in Western Australia, but it processed the ore in Malaysia.

The committee will hold public hearings in Kuantan on November 11 to gather feedback from interested parties.

The company’s shares closed Tuesday 4.8 % higher at A$1.96.