KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 16): Lynas Rare Earths Ltd said the closure of its Malaysian unit’s cracking and leaching part of its rare earths processing plant in Pahang will result in “hundreds of directs jobs and thousands of jobs lost or affected in our communities”.
“Once they are gone, these jobs and intellectual property will be lost to Malaysia forever,” the Australian company’s chief executive officer Amanda Lacaze said in a statement on Thursday (Feb 16).
She was responding to Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Chang Lih Kang’s comment at a press conference on Wednesday that “there might be some jobs lost” following Putrajaya’s decision to maintain the previous operating conditions imposed on Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd in March 2020.
The conditions include the shifting of the cracking and leaching process — which involves radioactive material — to outside of Malaysia.
This means Lynas must stop importing and processing rare earths concentrate after July, and can only refine the materials at the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant, located in Gebeng, near Kuantan. The cracking and leaching of lanthanide concentrate cannot be done there.
Lacaze, in her statement, said it was incorrect to suggest that the government’s decision was a choice between the economy or the environment “as evidence of the safe operation of Lynas is clear and validated by four separate reviews by expert scientists”.
“Lynas has met our obligations under the terms upon which we were invited to invest in Malaysia, including employing Malaysians; 99% of employees at Lynas Malaysia are Malaysian. We were pleased to receive representatives from the Department of Atomic Energy and its board to our new RM1.7 billion Kalgoorlie rare earths processing facility.
“However, the deadline was arbitrarily applied to the licence conditions without regard to the time required to construct and ramp up to full production, a facility of this size and complexity, particularly during a global pandemic,” she claimed.
“Lynas only seeks to be treated fairly and equitably as a foreign direct investor and for decisions to be made based on scientific evidence,” Lacaze added.