A coalition of 80 NGOs demanded today that Australian miner Lynas reveals its plan to convert the wastes from its rare earths refinery in Gebeng into commercially safe products that will be exported.
If Lynas fails to publish this plan, together with three other documents, the NGOs said, the International Trade and Industry Ministry should suspend or cancel the company’s temporary operating licence (TOL).
The coalition, named Solidariti Hijau, submitted a memorandum containing its demands to the ministry deputy secretary-general at the office in Kuala Lumpur today.
The documents the coalition wants made public are:
- The research findings plan for the recycling of the wastes generated;
- The emergency response plan to control the spread of dust in the air and environment;
- The plan and location for the permanent disposal facility and waste management plan; and
- Lynas’ innovative approach proposal to convert the wastes into commercial products that can be used in and out of the country.
At a press conference after the memorandum was submitted, coalition member Green Clean World chairperson Zulkefly Mohamad Omar said, “All these issues raised should be resolved before the TOL was granted, TOL and not after.”
Zulkefly (left) said the TOL was granted in haste and without reference to the Basel Convention, which is an international treaty to reduce and prevent the movement of hazardous wastes between countries.
Under the Basel Convention, Lynas is barred from exporting its wastes to other countries.
Abdul Rahman Maidin of the Institute of People and Rights pointed out the confirms that the wastes from the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant are “dangerous” to health.
“If everyone else in this world says ‘please don’t bring this waste to our country because it’s hazardous’, that means the people in this country are facing a hazardous operation.
“It will be irresponsible on the part of the government to allow this thing to continue,” Rahman (below) said, adding that the government should close down the Lynas rare earths refinery.
The TOL issued to Lynas in September only requires it to submit the plan for a permanent disposal facility plan within 10 months of the licence being issued.
Lynas has claimed that the wastes from its refinery can be completely converted into a commercially safe product called “synthetic aggregate” that it would market internationally. The plant to convert the wastes has been built in the refinery, it said, and it was now ready for operation.
This proposal has received the green light from Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Maximus Johnity Ongkili, who said Lynas could even market the converted product in Malaysia if there are local buyers.
The conversion plan has drawn much scepticism, but Lynas is yet to release any detail on this.