Shares in rare earths producer Lynas Corporation (ASX:LYC) climbed on Friday, closing 9.2 percent higher, after the Malaysian minister in charge of a committee reviewing the miner’s plant offered to step down following criticism that she would not be impartial.
Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Fuziah Salleh, a long-standing critic of Lynas’ plant, said she didn’t want to be used by the company to divert attention from the effects of the plant’s radioactive waste on people and the environment.
“If I remain in the committee, I will not be able to provide comments to the media and the public,” Salleh said according to local paper New Straits Times. “When I am no longer chairman [of the review committee], it will be easier for me to make comments and fight from the outside.”
Earlier this month, the Sydney-based miner raised concerns about the impartiality of Salleh and committee member Wong Tack, both long time opponents of having Lynas’ refinery in Malaysia.
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 is the only major rare earths miner outside China. The metallic elements, crucial in the production of magnets, are extracted in Western Australia, but processed in Malaysia.
The company’s operating license in the country is up for renewal in September next year.