Lynas up to its tricks again?

Government’s conditional license renewal for Lynas right move, says Yeo Bee Yin

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 – The government’s decision to stand its ground and continue imposing the condition of cracking and leaching process removal on Lynas by July 2023, despite intense lobbying from many fronts, is the right move, says Member of Parliament for Puchong Yeo Bee Yin.

In a statement issued here today, the former Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change said that a pre-condition had been imposed four years ago on Lynas license renewal to remove its radioactive waste from Malaysia (which was also acknowledged in two letters from the rare earth producer to the government of Malaysia in 2012).

According to her, Lynas fought very hard and they managed to lobby enough people that they didn’t need to keep their words, in the name of economic development, jobs, foreign direct investments.

“However, we (had) refused to see never-ending accumulation of radioactive waste in Malaysia hence replaced the condition on removing all radioactive waste from Malaysia with removing the radioactive-producing process (cracking and leaching, C&L) from Malaysia within four years.

“Under this new condition, Lynas had four years to build a C&L facility elsewhere. Upon its completion, Lynas would no longer be allowed to produce radioactive waste in Malaysia and only the intermediates are allowed to be shipped here for further processing.

“They subsequently announced that they were able to satisfy the conditions imposed by the Malaysian government and that they would build their C&L facilities in Kalgoorie, Australia (attached).”

Three years later, from its series of recent statements, Lynas is again fighting very hard to be escaped from the condition imposed on them and that they had announced “to be able to satisfy” in 2020, Yeo said.

“In fact, the C&L facilities in Kalgoorie is near to completion, but their intention now is to run both facilities in Malaysia and Australia to maximize profit.

“Lynas profit for the FY2022 was A$ 540 million while the C&L facilities construction cost in Kalgorie is estimated at A$ 575 million (in other words, Lynas can fund the entire facility with just one year of profit.) And yes, they are still enjoying 12 years tax-exemption.

“Can a company in any country decide for themselves what they need to comply and what they don’t according to their own liking and interest? In the name of economy and geopolitics, can a company be allowed to off the hook from their written commitment not once but twice in a dignified country.”

Yeo also hoped to see the results of the condition that had been imposed on Lynas in 2020 – “no more radioactive waste production for Lynas in Malaysia by July 2023.”

Meanwhile, an environmentalist said that was the least the company could do, considering how many Malaysians, directly affected by the activities of the company protested even the license renewal in 2019.

One environmentalist also quoted a source saying that Yeo could have been under pressure at that time, under the premiership of Tan Sri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to have signed the approval for Lynas to carry on with its operations.

Lynas on Thursday issued a press release saying that it was appealing to the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Technology for a review of the condition for its license renewal.

— WE