Monday, October 31, 2011

Putrajaya says rejected Lynas proposal, wants more info

The government said today Australian miner Lynas Corp’s submissions on safety requirements for its controversial RM1.5 billion rare earth refinery in Gebeng was rejected last month.

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) told Parliament today that it had received the submissions on July 18, two weeks after Putrajaya adopted the 11 recommendations set out by an International Atomic Energy Agency-led (IAEA) review of the refinery.

“On September 19, we returned all documents for corrections and additional information,” deputy minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof said of submissions by Lynas, whose factory has raised fears of radiation pollution in Kuantan.

The government has said it will not allow Lynas to begin operations or import rare earth ore until the 11 conditions, which include a comprehensive, long-term and detailed plan for managing radioactive waste that covers decommissioning and remediation, are met.

Lynas, which had earlier planned to ship in rare earth ore by the end of this year, was reported today to have delayed plans to start rare earth production at the Pahang plant to the first half of 2012.

“Subject to the receipt of the pre-operational licence, Lynas confirms its expectation to be in commercial supply during H1 2012,” Lynas was quoted as saying by the Australian Associated Press today.

Lynas has refuted claims of radiation pollution, assuring Kuantan residents they would face “zero exposure.”

Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh, who has led protests by local residents against the plant, also asked why the government could not provide information of the ongoing approval process.

“You received documents on July 18 and asked for corrections on September 19 but the people of Kuantan were never told about any of this,” the PKR vice president said.

But Fadillah said the government was not at liberty to disclose details of the submissions as “they contain business secrets which are owned by Lynas.”

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