Lynas Malaysia managing director and vice-president Mashal Ahmad said today that Western Australia's refusal to accept waste from abroad is not specific to the company.
Mashal said this in reference to reports that the Western Australian government would not accept the import of Lynas' water leech purification (WLP) waste, due to laws that prohibit accepting mining waste from other countries.
"Malaysia has similar laws that prevent the import of waste from raw materials that have undergone value-added processing overseas.
"It is incorrect to suggest that the Western Australian government’s decision is related to Lynas material only, or that Australia will not allow rare earth processing plants," he said in a statement.
Mashal also pointed to news reports on Western Australia being open to discussing a proposal for rare earth processing in the state.
"Lynas recently stated it is considering alternative cracking and leaching processing close to its mine in Western Australia, and the company has previously received approval to process its the material in Australia."
Lynas recently explored partially processing the rare earth it mines from Mount Weld in Western Australia before transporting to Malaysia, so as to avoid further build-up of waste at its Kuantan plant.
Putrajaya had previously said it will not allow the unlimited accumulation of waste at the company's facility in Gebeng.
Lynas is trying to commercialise the existing waste at the site, but it is not yet clear if the move will be approved by the government.
If it fails to do so, the company will need to explore other ways to address existing waste, including the construction of a permanent waste disposal facility.
Up until last December, the accumulated WLP residue at Lynas' facility was 451,564 tonnes, while the NUF waste amounted to 1.113 million tonnes.