SHAH ALAM: The government will announce its decision on Lynas Malaysia’s licence renewal status by Aug 15, says Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin.
Yeo said the government will also announce then whether the rare earth producer has to repatriate its radioactive waste back to Australia or not.
She also indicated that the final decision may not be ideal but still better than the present situation.
“Lynas can only apply for a renewal of its (operating) licence 30 days before it expires, which is on Sept 2.
“The company made an application yesterday (Aug 2), so it is still being processed.
“We will make a decision by Aug 15 and announce it with the full details, ” she was reported by Bernama as saying after launching the state-level National Science Week at the Selangor Library here yesterday.
Also present at the event was State Environment, Green Technology, Science and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Hee Loy Sian.
Asked about anti-Lynas group Save Malaysia Stop Lynas’ criticism of the company’s operations and its plans to hold a protest on Aug 18, Yeo said every citizen has the right to voice his or her views.
“I think the government has taken into account views from all relevant parties on matters regarding the environment and public safety.
“What I can say is that as far as I am concerned, the decision may not be an ideal one, but it’s still much better than status quo, ” she said.
Yeo also said ministry officials will be having a discussion on Tuesday with several MPs who have reservations about Lynas’ operations in the country.
The Lynas plant is located in the Gebeng industrial estate in Pahang.
In May, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Lynas would be allowed to continue to operate in the country.
However, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh, in response to that decision, was of the view that its radioactive waste must be sent home to Australia as a condition for it to continue operating here.
On Thursday, Dr Mahathir said the government was still waiting for Lynas to present its plan on dealing with its rare earth processing waste.
In a statement yesterday, Lynas Malaysia suggested building its permanent disposal factory (PDF) on disused mines in Pahang.
Its managing director Datuk Mashal Ahmad said its water leach purification residue is already stored in PDF-compliant facilities which have been approved by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board.
“Should the preference of the Malaysian government be a PDF, Lynas Malaysia’s current residue management practices, research, together with international best practice, can be applied to identify options to best utilise the material.
“As an example, there are a number of disused mines in Pahang that require rehabilitation and a PDF can be designed such that it assists in the rehabilitation of this land, providing environmental benefits in a sustainable way, ” he said.
The company, said Mashal, is also conducting research into safe alternative uses for the water leach purification residue.
“Independent and peer-reviewed research over several years has demonstrated that water leach purification residue, an iron phosphate material with very low level radioactivity, can be safely reused in a soil conditioner product, ” he added.
Lynas Malaysia has also deposited US$42.2mil (RM175.8mil) with the Federal Government to fund long-term residue management, he said.