High Court puts Lynas TOL on hold, say activists
UPDATED @ 04:29:23 PM 25-09-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 — The Kuantan High Court has put on hold for one week the temporary operating licence granted to Lynas Corp Ltd’s controversial rare earth plant near Kuantan, activists said, sending shares of the Australian firm tumbling 8 per cent.
“Lynas won’t be able to execute the Temporary Operating Licence for one week pending the application for a permanent stay,” Tan Bun Teet (picture), spokesman for the environmental group Save Malaysia Stop Lynas, told Reuters today.
The high court decision today means the hearing for the permanent application will be held on October 4, he added.
Lynas representatives and court officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Activists want the court to suspend the temporary licence until two judicial review cases challenging the government’s decision allowing the plant to operate are heard.
Lynas received a temporary operating licence for its long-delayed US$800 million (RM2.5 billion) rare earth plant earlier this month, enabling it to start production as early as October.
The Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) issued the permit following an earlier recommendation from a government committee.
The rare earth plant — the world’s biggest outside China — has been ready to fire up since early May, but the company has been embroiled in lengthy environmental and safety disputes with local residents since construction began two years ago.
Protests over possible radioactive residue have drawn thousands of people and the project has become a hot topic ahead of an election that must be held by early next year. The plant is considered important to breaking China’s grip on the processing of rare earths that are used in products ranging from smartphones to hybrid cars.
Shares of Lynas closed down 8.1 per cent at A$0.795, their lowest close in almost three weeks. — Reuters