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LETTER | Lynas and science - my own experience

LETTER | As a process engineer at Lynas for nearly three years, I have gained invaluable experience in engineering through hands-on training and on-the-job experience provided by the company.

In the current job market, there is a prevalence of low-skilled jobs, leading to graduate underemployment, also termed ‘overeducation’. It is a source of pride to see Malaysians excelling in this cutting-edge industry. It took us years of learning from mistakes to reach the point at which we are now, with a stable production process at cracking and leaching.

Our accumulated experience has enabled us to provide valuable assistance to the expansion project in Australia.

The cracking process converts rare earth phosphate mineral into soluble sulphate forms, which then undergo a series of pre-treatment processes before being fed to the solvent extraction circuit. Both cracking and leaching and solvent extraction must work in unison, given the variations in concentrate quality.

Thanks to our expertise in varying the extraction conditions, we have been able to stay ahead of the competition - an achievement that has taken years of experience and cannot be easily replicated.

The quality and production stability that we have achieved over the years are absolutely crucial to meet the rapidly growing demand for rare earth, spurred by the transition to green energy sources such as electric vehicles and wind turbines.

With the increasing number of graduates in Malaysia, the presence of Lynas has had a positive impact on the labour market, particularly in high-skilled jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, and has contributed to the economy of Kuantan town.

Moreover, the presence of Lynas has created a potential environment for the development of downstream rare earth ecosystems, such as the conversion of oxides to metals or even permanent NdFeB magnets. This is important to me because I am born and bred in Kuantan.

My family is in Kuantan. I want to realise the potential of greater development to my town. As an engineer and a local Kuantan boy, I am here to ensure that development is introduced not at the expense of safety.

Therefore, I hope the authorities can reconsider the decision of closing cracking and leaching and continue to support the growth of this critical industry in Malaysia, given its significant contributions to Malaysia's economy and its role in creating high-skilled jobs in STEM fields.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.