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Since rare earth processing is almost unheard of in Malaysia when I first joined Lynas, the learning process for me was like "back to basics" in chemistry and engineering. - NSTP/FARIZUL HAFIZ AWANG

LETTERS: I'VE been with Lynas close to nine years since 2011 as its senior engineer. My expertise is research and development. I hold a Bachelor's of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Oregon State University, US.

Since rare earth processing is almost unheard of in Malaysia when I first joined Lynas, the learning process for me was like "back to basics" in chemistry and engineering.

I have worked with many multinational manufacturing companies in Kuantan but the exposure to hydrometallurgy processes has been a tremendous "add-on" to my body of knowledge.

I started my career in palm oil refining. Being a government-sponsored scholar, I felt the need to explore further into the chemical industry after 10 years being in the sector.

I moved from plastic manufacturing and compounding in the Gebeng Industrial Estate to grace specialty packaging, later named Cryovac, to the sealed-air corporation, Senawang Industrial Estate to GE-LNP Engineering Plastics before ending up with SABIC Corporation, in the late 90’s.

Being a US-educated person, working with US companies were a breeze to fit in. Then Lynas came into the picture.

The havoc created surrounding the operation plant was mind boggling to me as someone who is residing in Kuantan.

I followed the SMSL Facebook page to understand what the commotion was all about.

Much to my dismay, the information on rare earth and its process operations was the opposite of that described by the group.

I was much more determined to join the Australian green manufacturing company. I was a green canvas on this rare earth processing. You might wonder what is rare earth? These elements were not taught in school, these range of rare earth are found at the second last bottom row on the periodic table of elements.

When we, local engineers first joined, we were trained by a few industry experts from China and India, who had more than 20 years of experience.

There were many fascinating aspects of rare earths not known to us. Even until today, we are still discovering and learning different aspects of rare earth processing and its application first hand.

I am thankful of the knowledge I had gained from these experts. Many of whom had returned to their home countries.

Now, we are the drivers of rare earth processing in Malaysia. We are so driven and enthusiastic to explore and develop this industry.

Being Malaysians, we are determined to make Lynas successful and are proud to be working in Lynas.

My work in Lynas resulted in me being recognized and appointed as a member of the prestigious University Malaya Academic Committee for the Bachelor of Applied Science (Chemistry).

Lynas has been strictly compliant to all the rules and regulations. We pride ourselves by benchmarking to the highest standards in safety and environmental standards.

Lynas continues to work toward satisfying new technology downstream such as improving car exhaust gas quality with fewer toxic gases and improving water quality from pollutants amongst other.

If that is not working toward a greener environment, I don’t know what else is.

Here’s wishing all the best to Malaysia in forefronting the rare earth processing industry outside of China. All eyes, if not already, are on Lynas Malaysia.


Senior Process Engineer Research and Development

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times

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