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Residents in Balok say they can now breathe a little easier as those working at the Lynas plant will not lose their jobs. - NSTP file pic

KUANTAN: After months of uncertainty, residents of Balok are relieved that the government has announced a decision in favour of the Lynas rare earths plant.

Residents said they could now breathe a little easier as those working at the Lynas plant would not lose their jobs and hoped that

the plant would be able to adhere to the licence requirements within the next six months.

Balok residents’ representative Shaharuddin Samsudin said those in Balok were relieved as the plant had not only created jobs but also ensured economic spillovers.

“A large group of people living in Balok work in Lynas, so the licence extension is good news.

“Now we hope that the plant will do the necessary as required by the government.

“I am sure once the conditions are met, there will be no reason for the government not to issue the plant with a further operating

licence.

“As far as the residents are concerned, Lynas is neither a political issue, nor is it causing any harm to the environment.

“It’s good that the government has set up special bodies to study before making a decision... people have to accept the outcome of

these studies instead of merely making false accusations.”

Shaharuddin said Lynas had been actively engaging the local community through various programmes, including corporate social responsibility (CSR) events.

The locals, he said, were well-informed about the plant.

“Due to strong anti-Lynas protests in the past, the people here have tried to gain more information about the factory and its operations. These days, the people here cannot be easily duped by claims that the plant is harmful or poses a threat.”

Former Kampung Selamat village headman, Manap Muda, 67, said the factory had provided a lot of job opportunities for those

living in Balok, Beserah and Gebeng, and it would be a disaster if the factory was closed.

He said the six-month licence ext ension was a “green light” for Lynas to carry on and meet the stipulated conditions, including expanding their facilities.

A spokesman of the Pahang Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the decision to renew Lynas’ operating licence would boost

foreign investment in the state as it gave the state government a good image.

“The Pahang government led by Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail recently secured investments from Singapore. If Lynas is told to stop operations, then it will look bad.

Now, Lynas has to make sure it meets the conditions set by the government to continue operating here.”

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