Lynas not allowed to carry out activities producing radioactive waste after July, says minister

PETALING JAYA: Australian rare earth materials producer Lynas will not be allowed to carry out any activity that will produce radioactive waste in Malaysia after July 2023, says Chang Lih Kang.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Minister said Lynas has been informed of the decision by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB), where its request to drop four conditions related to cracking and leaching (C&L) activities, the generation of Water Leach Purification (WLP) residues and the importation of lanthanide concentrates from Australia was not considered.

"In other words, Lynas is not allowed to carry out activities that will produce radioactive waste in Malaysia after July 2023.

"I will hold a press conference tomorrow to explain the decision," Chang tweeted on Tuesday (Feb 14).

The current three-year term of Lynas Malaysia's operating licence is set to expire in March.

It was previously reported that under the conditions of its licence renewed under the then Pakatan Harapan government in 2020, Lynas was expected to develop a permanent disposal facility (PDF) to store its water leach purification residue.

It must also ensure that a cracking and leaching plant outside Malaysia would be in operation before July 2023.

After that period, Lynas would no longer be allowed to import raw materials containing naturally occurring radioactive material into Malaysia.

In its quarterly activities report in January, Lynas said capital works were underway at Lynas Malaysia to receive and process mixed rare earth carbonate feedstock to be produced at its new Kalgoorlie rare earths processing facility in the state of Western Australia.

It said progress on major construction activities accelerated at the Kalgoorlie facility during the quarter.

Meanwhile, construction of the off-site PDF in Malaysia was continuing, it said.

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