Lynas has again been denied support by the Australian government regarding the highly controversial waste material to be produced from its $200-million rare earths processing plant in Malaysia.
“National legislation stipulates that Australia will not accept responsibility for any waste product produced from offshore processing of resources purchased in Australia such as iron ore, mineral sands and the rare earth produced by Lynas Corporation,” Norman Moore, Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum, told the Free Malaysia Today in a statement.
“Australia does not support the importation and storage of other countries’ radioactive waste.”
On February 2, the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) of Malaysia and the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti) granted to Australian miner Lynas the highly coveted temporary operating license (TOL) needed to advance the rare earths processing plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.
But the TOL was released not without a number of conditions, most delicate of which is that Lynas must assume full responsibility for waste management from its plant. And if worse comes to worst, AELB and Mosti want all waste generated by the Malaysian plant should be brought back to where it came from - Lynas’s Mount Weld mine in Western Australia.
However, Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, AELB director-general, continued to rally on the board’s decision, saying returning the waste to Australia was part of a number of options, if not the ultimate, final resort.
The AELB already has Plan B, C and D in place, the Free Malaysia Today reported, quoting Adnan.
Robin Chapple, Greens MP, supported the radioactive waste must be processed right at Mount Weld and placed immediately back in the ground from where it came from - the very reasons why China had slashed its rare earths exports quota because it wants to ensure the health of its environment and citizens.
“One of the major reasons China has reduced its rare earth output and exports since 2009 was the government’s and public concern that mining and refining operations were causing excessive contamination to surrounding areas,” Chapple said in a press statement issued after the release of the TOL approval.