KUANTAN: Lynas Corp has revealed that the current permission to store one of its rare earth processing by-products onsite is set to expire by the end of the month.
Company secretary Andrew Arnold said in a statement that for the past five years, the government's preference was for the reuse of the neutralisation underflow (NUF) residue and therefore Lynas applied for and received temporary storage permissions pending reuse.
"During this time, Lynas Malaysia did not apply for the LAMP (Lynas Advanced Materials Plant) to be licensed as prescribed premises for disposal of the material, instead investing in research to identify suitable options for reuse.
"Lynas' current permission to store the NUF onsite is for the period ending 31 October 2018," he said in the statement issued on Wednesday (Oct 17).
Arnold added that when Lynas received indications that the reuse option was unlikely to be the preference of the new government, the company lodged applications for an extension of the temporary storage permissions and for the LAMP to be licensed as prescribed premises for disposal of the NUF, similar to other industrial plants in Malaysia.
He said Lynas had a strong expectation that it would be allowed to continue to store NUF at the LAMP, pending approval of the site as a prescribed premises for the disposal of the material based on several factors, including the fact that NUF was not toxic and not radioactive.
"Lynas' applications are currently before the regulators. If Lynas does not receive an extension for temporary storage by 31 October 2018, then the amount of NUF temporarily stored at the LAMP will exceed the prescribed limit under the Environmental Quality Regulation (Schedule Waste) 2005," he said.
However, Arnold said this would not be a breach of the operating licence.
He said Lynas would continue to press the Malaysian regulators for a response prior to Oct 31 or at least for confirmation that no action would be taken while Lynas' applications were being considered.
For clarity, Arnold said this matter only referred to the NUF residue but stressed that Lynas was also compliant with permissions related to the storage of the water leach purification (WLP) residue.
Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said in a statement on Monday (Oct 15) that the LAMP executive review committee would also evaluate the time extension for Lynas' scheduled waste storage.
On another matter, Arnold said Lynas was committed to Malaysia and its preference was to continue operations in its current form in Kuantan.
"Any prudent business will consider whether there are opportunities for future strategic growth and how they may be developed and implemented. In addition, like any prudent business, we manage risks and we develop mitigation plans for key risks as they emerge.
"The review in Malaysia has only recently been announced, and it would be premature to speculate on the outcome of this review process. Similarly, it would be premature to speculate on mitigation plans arising from the review," he said, adding that Lynas would continue to engage with the Malaysian government.