Lynas hunts for Malaysia waste storage site as deadline looms

Rare earth production line at Lynas’ plant in Kuantan, Malaysia. (Image taken from Lynas’ presentation)

Lynas Corp is working to select a site in Malaysia’s Pahang state to build a storage facility for low-level radioactive waste as a March deadline nears, the CEO of the rare earths miner said on Thursday.

The Australian company has an approval letter from the Pahang state government to locate a permanent disposal facility (PDF) in the state, where Lynas’ processing plant is located.

“Now it’s the requirement for yes, (we) can locate the PDF at such and such address,” Lynas CEO Amanda Lacaze said.

Malaysia issued Lynas with a six-month licence renewal — shorter than the usual 3 years — on Sept. 3, while also setting new conditions for Lynas to meet to continue operating in the country.

“We have a set of conditions, we have a timeline to meet, we are focused on meeting those conditions…so that we can all move on,” Lacaze told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry conference. “Six months is not a long time.”

Lynas, which has been operating an $800 million plant in Malaysia since 2012, is the only major proven producer of rare earths outside China.

On Monday, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told reporters that his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison had asked for Malaysia to drop the conditions on Lynas.

“We were as surprised as anyone else when we read what the prime minister had to say,” Lacaze said.

(By Liz Lee; Editing by Jason Neely)

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