Lynas Rare Earths subsidiary Lynas Malaysia has renewed its operating licence for a period of three years, effective 3 March 2023.
Located in the Gebeng Industrial Estate near Kuantan, Malaysia, close to the Kuantan deep-water port, the Lynas Malaysia rare earths separation plant is equipped to treat the Mt Weld concentrate and produce separated rare earths oxide (REO) products.
The operating licence renewal application has been approved by the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB).
Lynas said that the licence has been renewed with no change to the conditions, which were imposed when the licence was issued in March 2020.
The conditions include a ban on lanthanide concentrate imports and processing after 1 July 2023.
Lynas said if the conditions are not removed before 1 July 2023, it would result in the closure of the cracking and leaching part of its rare earths processing plant.
The Malaysian Government, however, has raised concerns about levels of radiation from the cracking and leaching process, reported Reuters.
Malaysia’s Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Chang Lih Kang was quoted by the news agency as saying in a Facebook post: “Lynas is not allowed to carry out any activities that will produce radioactive waste in Malaysia after July 2023.”
However, Lynas said that two reviews by International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that the plant adheres to rules and is low risk.
Lynas Rare Earths CEO and managing director Amanda Lacaze said: “After ten years of safe operation in Malaysia, we are disappointed that the conditions that were applied to our 2020 operating licence remain.
“We will now proceed with administrative and legal appeals to ensure that Lynas is treated fairly and equitably as a foreign direct investor and a significant employer and contributor to the Malaysian economy.”
According to the new permit, Lynas can continue other parts of processing until March 2026.
Lynas sought Malaysia’s regulator permit to remove conditions as they ‘represent a significant variation from the conditions under which the previous four operating licences were issued and under which Lynas made the initial decision to invest in Malaysia’.