Friday, April 20, 2012

Rare earth plant in Malaysia nearly ready to go

A worker operates heavy machinery at the site of the under construction Lynas rare earths plant in Gebeng, eastern Malaysia, on Thursday, April 19, 2012. -- PHOTO: AP

GEBENG, Malaysia (AP) - Australian miner Lynas said on Thursday its customers and suppliers will suffer losses if the opening of its Malaysian refinery for minerals that are crucial to high-tech manufacturing is delayed by a new government review.

Malaysia earlier this year granted Lynas a two-year licence to operate the first rare earths plant outside China in years. But the government is reviewing its decision amid protests by residents over alleged health and environmental risks posed by potential leaks of radioactive waste. Lynas says it has state-of-the-art pollution controls.
Rare earths are 17 minerals used in the manufacture of hybrid cars, weapons, flat-screen TVs, mobile phones, mercury-vapour lights, and camera lenses. China has about a third of the world's rare earth reserves but supplies about 90 per cent of what is consumed. It has placed restrictions on exports, sparking causing among manufacturers from Japan to the US.
The managing director of Lynas' Malaysian operations, Mashal Ahmad, said the company was ready to start operations in two weeks but the review means it cannot bring in raw material.

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