Lynas lashes out at Malaysian environmental probe

By William Clarke
Published: Monday, 22 October 2018

Lynas is calling for fairness from the Malaysian government during its environmental investigation.

Australian rare earth producer Lynas has raised concerns that an environmental investigation into its Malaysian refining plant is neither fair, nor independent.

The investigation, announced in September, is being led by a politician believed to be hostile to the facility and its environmental effects.

It would be a major blow for Lynas - the largest non-Chinese rare earth producer - if the Malaysian government decided to shut down the plant.

Lynas chief executive Amanda Lacaze wrote an open letter to the Malaysian government on October 3, calling for "fairness, objectivity and transparency."

"Lynas Malaysia has been producing high quality rare earth materials at our Gebeng plant for six years," Lacaze said. "Our operations are built on a zero-harm philosophy. Independent monitoring confirms we have achieved this."

Lacaze noted that the committee reviewing the company is chaired by Malaysian deputy minister Fuziah Salleh, who "openly admits to being anti-Lynas."

According to Malaysian media, Salleh has long opposed the Lynas plant.

If refining capacity in Malaysia is shut down, the company might need to ship its Australia-mined material to be refined. This could be problematic at a time when rare earth threatens to be drawn into an emerging trade war between China and the United States.