The High Court of Malaysia has knocked back a request to review the recent decision to grant the rare earths miner Lynas Corporation a a temporary licence for a processing plant.
Malaysia’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board in February granted a two-year operating licence for the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng.
Lynas shares today rose 2.5 cents, or 2.5 per cent, to $1.03.
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Lynas said an application for leave to apply for a judicial review of the decision had been denied.
The court noted that an appeal against the granting of the temporary licence with Malaysia’s Innovation, Science and Technology minister Maximus Ongkili was in progress and determined that it was not appropriate for the court to intervene in the matter.
“Both Lynas and Malaysian government opposed the application,” Lynas said in a statement.
“Lynas understands that the appeal to the minister will be heard in April 2012.”
The Atomic Energy Licensing Board has authority over the plant because radioactive materials are naturally present in rare earths.
The radiation risk has fuelled fears among local communities, environmental groups and Malaysia’s opposition party, which says it will stop the plant if elected to government.
While the court had ruled in Lynas’ favour, the controversy was undermining both the plant and Malaysia’s international investment reputation, executive chair Nicholas Curtis said.
“This concerted political campaign, which is based on misinformation, is sabotaging the science-based, regulatory process established in Malaysia and confidence in that process,” Curtis said.
He said “every safety box” had been ticked, but that was being ignored.
Curtis also rejected comparisons between the LAMP and the Bukit Merah rare earth refinery in Malaysia operated by Japan’s Mitsubishi.
According to media reports from Asia, Bukit Merah closed 20 years ago, but locals are angered that it has left the plant’s radioactive waste in a nearby dedicated facility.
“The Bukit Merah feedstock had radiation levels 30 times higher than the LAMP feedstock and the residue at Bukit Merah was 100 times the radiation levels of the LAMP by-product,” Curtis said.
“Bukit Merah would not gain approval under either international or Malaysian regulatory standards today, in contrast to the LAMP which complies with both.”