Malaysian High Court Allows Lynas Opponents to Question and Review License in High Chambers

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | August 30, 2012 5:22 PM EST

Opponents to the rare earths processing plant of Lynas Corp. in Malaysia scored a win after a Malaysian High Court this week approved to hear the application for two judicial reviews lodged against the plant's temporary operating license (TOL).

This as Australian rare earths miner Lynas announced on Wednesday that it has fully completed the construction of its $350 million Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan, Malaysia. Shares jumped 7 per cent to 70 cents that day.

Justice Mariana Yahya of the Kuantan High Court agreed to hear the application filed by the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) movement that calls to cancel the plant's TOL granted on Jan. 30 by Malaysia's Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB). The group likewise wanted the High Chambers to review the subsequent decision of Malaysia's Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation not to annul the TOL based on an appeal filed by a group of Kuantan residents and their legal representatives.

The High Court has yet to finalise a date to hear the matter.

"We are very pleased that our application was accepted by the court. We look forward to further fair hearings and trial in the near future," Kuantan resident Ismail Abu Bakar was quoted as saying by online news portal www.freemalaysiatoday.com.

The beleaguered LAMP facility had faced numerous mudslingings, including operational setbacks, ever since being awarded the TOL early this year. Opponents had claimed its TOL was highly illegal since Lynas failed to submit a detailed environmental impact assessment. Lynas should have also forwarded an additional radiological impact assessment and a radioactive waste management plan to AELB for approval before the latter granted the license.

The SMSL group likewise claimed that Lynas failed to consult the nearby communities on the potential health and environment hazards of the project.

But both Malaysian and international radiation experts have concluded that although the plant would indeed emit a certain level of radiation, this would be only minimal. They likewise added the LAMP facility is one of the world's most advanced design.

The primary cause of agitation from the residents is the storage and management of residue that will come from the refining process.

"To address this community concern, Lynas undertakes to ensure that all the material that is causing the major concern to the Malaysian public is removed through conversion into co-products, and exported in a form acceptable for international markets and in accordance with all Malaysian regulations and international conventions," the company said in a statement. 

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