Govt’s firm decision on Lynas' licence a good move, says former minister

KUANTAN: Former minister Yeo Bee Yin (pic) has lauded the government's decision to stand its ground in continuing to impose a prohibition on cracking and leaching on Lynas Malaysia by July 2023.

The former energy, science, technology, environment and climate change minister said it was the right move in spite of intense lobbying from many fronts.

Yeo said about four years ago, the then-Pakatan Harapan government imposed a pre-condition for Lynas' licence renewal to remove its radioactive waste from Malaysia according to its two letters of undertaking to the government in 2012.

"Lynas fought very hard and they managed to lobby enough people in the name of economic development, jobs, FDI etc.

"However, we refused to see a never-ending accumulation of radioactive waste in Malaysia hence replaced the condition on removing all radioactive waste from Malaysia with removing the radioactive material-producing process (cracking and leaching) from Malaysia within four years," she said in a statement Friday (Feb 17).

Under the new condition, Yeo said Lynas had four years to build a cracking and leaching facility elsewhere and upon its completion, Lynas would no longer be allowed to produce radioactive waste in Malaysia and only the intermediates would be allowed to be shipped here for further processing.

"They subsequently announced that they were able to satisfy the conditions imposed by the Malaysian government and would build cracking and leaching facilities in Kalgoorlie, Australia.

"Three years later, from its series of recent statements, Lynas is again fighting hard to escape from the condition imposed on them," said Yeo.

She claimed that Lynas' intention now was to run both facilities in Malaysia and Australia to maximise profit as the cracking and leaching facilities in Kalgoorlie neared completion.

Yeo said Lynas' profit for the 2022 financial year was AU$540mil (RM1.63bil) while the cracking and leaching facilities' construction cost in Kalgoorlie was estimated at AU$575mil (RM1.74bil).

She said that in other words, Lynas could fund the entire facility with just one year of profit while still enjoying its 12-year tax exemption.

"Therefore, the government's decision to stand its ground and continue imposing the condition of removing the cracking and leaching process from Malaysia by July 2023 is the right move.

"I look forward to the day we see the fruit from the condition we started imposing in 2020 - no more radioactive waste production for Lynas in Malaysia by July 2023. It's been a long journey," said Yeo.

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