At least five possible locations have been identified for Lynas Corp to build a permanent disposal facility (PDF) for the water leach purification residue generated from its rare earth processing plant in Gebeng.
Quoting a source, Harian Metro reported that the five locations are former gold and iron ore mines in Lepar, Luit, Padang Tengku, Bukit Ibam and Chini in Pahang.
"These areas have high potential to be selected as the site for the PDF, given their status as abandoned mines with no new developments or industry.
"The areas are currently being studied, and if found to be suitable, a final decision will be made later," said the source.
Harian Metro added that studies have also been conducted on the impact of the PDF to the local environment.
Lynas said last week that it was still in the process of hunting for a waste disposal site within Pahang, where its plant is based.
The construction of a PDF is part of the condition imposed by Putrajaya on the company for the renewal of its operating licence.
Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin – who had previously insisted on the company shipping its waste out of the country – said the government's latest condition was less than ideal, but still better than the status quo.
Yeo added that the cabinet's full decision will be announced in detail no later than August 15.
Earlier this week, sources told Reuters that the government planned to extend Lynas' operating licence, though it could be for a shorter duration than the usual three years.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad also said yesterday that Malaysia cannot force Lynas to leave just because some people do not want to accept expert studies which indicated a "very low level" of radioactivity in its waste.