Some 10,000 protesters opposed to the presence of the rare earths processing plant by Australian miner Lynas Corp in Kuantan, Malaysia had ended their 13-day protest march in Kuala Lumpur, arriving in the Malaysian capital on Sunday.
Walking barefoot, the protesters walked a total of 300 kilometers from Kuantan in the state of Pahang where the refinery is located way up to the Kuala Lumpur in Independent Square. It was organized by environmental activist group Himpunan Hijau, which have been openly vocal against the plant's construction since two years ago.
"We hope the government can hear his people's voices. I believe they can't handle any untoward consequences. Advanced countries like Japan couldn't handle (radiation-related disasters), let alone Malaysia," Andrew Lim, one of the demonstrators, was quoted as saying by Xinhua News.
Wearing coloured green shirts, the protesters were greeted by hundreds of police and were prevented from entering the landmark Independent Square. In response, they said they would camp on the site till Monday morning unless a government official talks to them and listens to their demands.
"Why would I not protest if it is health hazardous? I consider our protest successful because we managed to persuade more people to be on our side but I am heartbroken at the same time that while we were walking a long way, Lynas were secretly transporting the raw materials to its plant. It was a tough journey as hundreds of us were forced to share a toilet and brace the storm, trying our best to cancel the plant but Lynas got away with it," Too Ya Mei, a Kuantan resident, was quoted by www.globaltimes.cn.
The rare earths processing plant, operated by Lynas Corp., has already received its first shipment of rare earth concentrates. Due to start operations in December, it is to start generating revenue for the company in the first quarter of 2013.