KUANTAN: The management of Lynas should honour its commitment to remove its water leach purification (WLP) residue from Malaysia, says Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin.
Clarifying the ministry's decision to impose additional pre-conditions on Lynas' licence renewal, she said there was no viable near-term solution to manage the accumulated residue at the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (Lamp).
"There is continuous accumulation of the two primary residues at the Lamp site namely, water leach purification residue (WLP) totalling 451,564 tonnes and neutralisation underflow residue (NUF) totalling 1.113 million tonnes. I think you would have seen the 'hills' of residue accumulated at Lamp.
"The risks to the surrounding communities and environment increases with the increasing amount of accumulated residue as it is exposed to the threat of natural disasters such as major flooding," Yeo said in a Facebook post addressed to Lynas employees on Thursday (Dec 13).
She added that considering the risk of the residue accumulation, it was now necessary for the earth materials producer to carry out its commitment.
As to the cost for such an action, Yeo referred to The Australian Financial Review which reported CLSA analyst Dylan Kelly as saying that the cost of transporting the waste back to Australia was estimated to be A$60mil (RM181.4mil), of which insurance would cover about A$46mil (RM139.1mil).
The balance of about A$14mil (RM42.3mil) would represent about 10% of the earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of A$129mil (RM390.1mil) that Lynas recorded in 2017-18, according to the report.
"I really hope you can put things into perspective according to these figures - it only takes 10% of Lynas' earnings of one year to send out waste that has been accumulated in Malaysia for six years," Yeo said.
She was responding to Tuesday's (Dec 11) gathering of 130 Lynas workers in front of Parliament to urge the government to save their jobs.
Yeo said as a minister, her job is to protect public interest and the people of Malaysia.
"I would like you to know that I did not ask more than what your employer had committed back in 2012. Therefore, it is my hope that Lynas will honour their words and start the process of shipping out the WLP residue from Malaysia.
"I hope this decision also sends a message to the next generation that this generation of Malaysians is doing the best we can to leave the country a better place for them to live in," she said.