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KUALA LUMPUR: Australia’s Lynas Corp is set to clear the final hurdle for its delayed $800 million rare earths plant after Malaysian lawmakers asked the government to issue the miner a temporary operating license despite community safety concerns.
The recommendations of a six-member parliamentary committee will be debated later on Tuesday.
This will clear the way for Lynas to operate the plant in east Malaysia that is seen as key to breaking China’s grip on rare earths used in products ranging from Apple Inc’s smartphones to Honda Motors’ hybrid cars.
The decision by the committee came after Malaysia last week dismissed an appeal by residents to scrap the plant on concerns of radiation leakage.
The Lynas plant, set to be the biggest in the world outside China, has been standing ready to fire up since early May, but the company has been embroiled in lengthy environmental and safety disputes with local residents.
The MPs on Tuesday said awarding the license would help the $800 million factory start processing rare earths in stages and recommended for a committee of NGOs and experts to keep track of the plant.
“The committee is satisfied the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) has met all the necessary standards and laws in Malaysia,” the report said. “Even so, there have been legal requirements and standards imposed on the LAMP project that were more stringent than international standards.”
The 100-page report said while Lynas had met safety, health and environmental standards, an additional 31 recommendations will be tabled in what appears to be concessions to public concerns over the plant’s safety aspects.
Key among them is a recommendation Lynas has to ship out factory waste from Malaysia if it is unable to find an approved storage and recycling site — a sticking point for green groups, opposition parties and local residents.
“The committee wants to inform that Lynas Corporation and Lynas Malaysia have written letters expressing their commitment to removing LAMP residue from Malaysia,” the report said.
Lynas has said demand is so strong that it has locked in customers for all the rare-earths it can process in the first 10 years of operations. Agencies