Lynas secures funding to relocate radioactive waste processing operations

Modified 27 Jun 2019, 8:14 am

Lynas Malaysia has secured “funding certainty” for its promised relocation of the rare earth plant’s radioactive waste processing operations out of Malaysia.

The funding was obtained via a 10-year loan extension with the company’s long-term partner Japan Australia Rare Earths BV (JARE), a joint venture between state-owned Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation and Japanese trading firm Sojitz Corporation.

“This 10-year extension of the loan facility with JARE provides funding certainty for the further investment in downstream processing at Lynas Malaysia, as well as the relocation of first-stage processing – cracking and leaching - from Malaysia to Western Australia over the next five years.

“Once the new cracking and leaching plant is operational, the material shipped to Malaysia for processing will not include naturally-occurring radioactive material,” Lynas Malaysia’s statement read today. 

The company’s managing director and vice president Mashal Ahmad added this meant funding for further investments in downstream processing at the rare earth plant in Malaysia.

“Rare earths are also essential to Malaysia’s growing electronics industry in Penang and the Malaysian automotive industry.

“As the world’s second largest producer of rare earths products, Lynas can help attract further investment in the downstream supply chain in Malaysia, which can position the country as the manufacturing hub of products made from rare earths,” he said. 

The company had promised to transfer the processing of its waste, which contains low level naturally-occurring radioactive material, to somewhere near Lynas' Western Australian rare earth mine within five years

The resulting radioactive-free material will then be sent to Malaysia for further processing. 

This was a condition for the renewal of the company’s operating license stipulated by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. 

At present, rare earth material that Lynas extracts from its Western Australia mine is processed at the Gebeng facility in Pahang.

Marshal had previously stated that Lynas was working with Putrajaya on a resolution for existing waste, called water leach purification (WLP) residue, which is already accumulated in Malaysia.

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