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Malaysia Approves Disposal Site for Rare Earths Miner

Washington is keen to help allies that can produce rare earths as an alternative to sourcing the materials in China and Lynas has become a critical partner in that effort


Lynas's plant near the port of Kuantan in Malaysia. Photo: Lynas Rare Earths

 

Australia’s Lynas Rare Earths said on Thursday it has received approval from Malaysian authorities to build a permanent disposal facility for residue from its mining operations in the country.

The Australian rare earths miner said it has undertaken detailed assessments for the proposed facility at the Gebeng industrial estate near the port of Kuantan in Pahang state.

The disposal of low-level radioactive waste from Lynas’s Malaysia plant has been a contentious issue.

Identifying a location for the permanent disposal facility was part of the requirements set by Kuala Lumpur when it renewed the company’s licence to operate in Malaysia early last year.

Lynas, the world’s biggest rare earths miner outside China, received an extension in late August on a deadline due to the pandemic to satisfy licence conditions to build the permanent facility.

Australian rare earth miners have recorded strong gains this year on increasing popularity of electric vehicles amid a global push to reduce carbon emissions.

 

Share Price Doubles

Lynas’ shares have more than doubled so far this year and are on track for their best year since 2017. The ASX-listed stock rose 1.2% on Thursday to A$10.27.

In February, the US awarded $30.4 million to Lynas to build a facility in Texas for processing rare earths used to make weapons, electronics and other goods.

Washington is keen to help allies that can produce rare earths as an alternative to sourcing the materials in China and Lynas has become a critical partner in that effort.

Beijing has criticised the US and other countries for attempting to challenge China’s rare earth dominance.

“Reports that the US government offered funding to firms like Australian rare-earth producer Lynas are often cited as a proof demonstrating US resolve to reduce reliance on China,” the state-run Global Times said on Wednesday.

“That may leave the impression that with sufficient political motivation, the US could easily build indigenous production capacity for rare earths mining and processing to diminish China’s resources, but the economic sustainability of such projects is highly questionable.”

 

  • Reuters, with George Russell

 

 

READ MORE:

Malaysia backs Australia’s Lynas to build rare earth processing plant

Australia backs plan for new rare earths refinery

Rare earth metals at the heart of China’s rivalry with US, Europe

 

 

 

George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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