Lynas bumps up against rare earth production cap, suspends Malaysian ops in Dec

By William Clarke
Published: Thursday, 20 December 2018

Rare earth miner Lynas will halt operations at its refining plant in Malaysia until the New Year after local authorities in Kuantan, Pahang state, blocked its application to increase its output quota.

Lynas will shutter production after hitting a production cap imposed by regulators, it said on November 27.

"As we indicated in the quarterly report on 25 October 2018, one of the business as usual applications that we have lodged is for an increase in the annual volume of lanthanide concentrate that can be processed at Lynas Malaysia this calendar year," the company said.

"As it is now late November, and we have not received that approval, we are prudently planning for a temporary shutdown of production in December," it added.

Lynas, the largest non-Chinese rare earth producer, said the shutdown could hit production of rare earths neodymium and praseodymium, which are used in batteries included in electric vehicles, by around 400 tonnes.

This volume of material would be worth around A$16 million ($11.59 million), Lynas said.

The company has faced growing regulatory and political opposition to its refining site. A Malaysian parliamentary committee is compiling a report on the environmental effect of the plant.

Opposition to the plant is being led by Kuantan member of parliament Fuziah Salleh. Lynas has previous called for fairness in the investigation, accusing Salleh of being "anti-Lynas."