Malaysia

Anti-Lynas group again fails to challenge Aussie miner’s licence

September 10, 2012

Residents from Kuantan attend SLC’s appeal hearing in Kuala Lumpur, September 10, 2012.—Picture by Saw Siow FengResidents from Kuantan attend SLC’s appeal hearing in Kuala Lumpur, September 10, 2012.—Picture by Saw Siow FengKUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 ― The Stop Lynas coalition (SLC) today failed a second time at getting leave for a judicial review of the Atomic Energy Licensing Board’s (AELB) decision to grant a temporary operating licence (TOL) to Lynas Corp for its rare earth plant in Kuantan.

The Court of Appeal today dismissed SLC’s appeal of a Kuala Lumpur High Court decision on April 12, where an application for judicial review was previously rejected.

High Court judge Rohana Yusuf had made the decision on the grounds that a parliamentary select committee (PSC) as well as the science, technology and innovation minister were already looking into the same issues raised.

Last week, Lynas Corp confirmed that it had received the TOL from government regulators, paving the way for it to fire up its controversial rare earth plant.

Opponents have called the RM2.5 billion project “the world’s largest radioactive waste dump” despite the Sydney-based firm’s insistence that radiation would be at very low levels as “it will break down and alpha particles will release very strong radiation into the food chain.”

Lynas cleared its final major hurdle in June to getting its TOL after a PSC called for the licence to be issued as “scientific facts” show that the controversial Kuantan plant is safe.

The positive feedback tabled in the PSC report came just days after the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry dismissed an appeal against the facility by residents living nearby and instead imposed two conditions that Lynas said it will have no problems meeting.

Lynas had said in April that delays in obtaining the licence for its facility, which was initially approved in January, may have “very serious consequences” for the RM80 billion worth of rare earth orders already received as it is “sold out for the next 10 years.”

Unprecedented public anger against the Lynas plant in Kuantan has been fertilising Malaysia’s green movement and could affect voter sentiment ahead of key national polls that must be called soon.

Earlier this year, thousands of people gathered for a peaceful demonstration in Kuantan calling on the government to stop the plant from starting operations.

The company said that the issuance of the TOL would enable Lynas to commence the transport of rare earth concentrate and to complete all necessary steps to prepare for first feed to kiln, which is expected in October.

Two weeks ago, five Kuantan residents made headway in their last-ditch bid to stop Lynas Corp from firing up its plant after they got the High Court’s nod to challenge the science, technology and innovation minister’s decision to award a TOL to the Australian miner.