Lynas, Australia should find ways to remove waste from Malaysia

By AFIQ AZIZ / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

Lynas Corp Ltd and the Australian government should find ways to remove waste from Malaysia, said Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh (picture).

“Although the waste is generated here, the origin is from Australia. So, Malaysia should not be burdened with these radioactive elements,” Fuziah told The Malaysian Reserve when contacted yesterday.

Fuziah was responding to remarks by Western Australian Mines Minister Bill Johnston, who said the country will not open its door to accept the return waste, which is currently being processed in Pahang.

Johnston said importing waste from overseas is illegal under the country’s laws.

“Generally speaking, the best place for contaminated material is where it comes from, which in this case, would be in the mine void, but we are not going to take mine waste back from overseas,” he was quoted as saying by The Australian newspaper.

“We won’t accept waste from overseas,” he added.

The rare earth ores processed in Lynas’ plant in Gebeng originated from the Mt Weld mine in Australia.

The company had been asked to resend its water leach purification (WLP) waste to Australia before September, when its operating licence expires.

However, Lynas revealed in its environmental impact assessment report that it had managed to develop two types of products utilising the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant’s process residue; a road base material and a soil conditioner product known as CondiSoil.

The report stated that as a soil conditioner, CondiSoil is composed of WLP, neutralisation underflow residue (NUF) and filler material at a ratio of 1:2:7.

Lynas claimed that NUF is highly rich in gypsum; it provides much needed nutrients to the soil in the form of magnesium, sulphide, calcium and phosphorus.

However, Fuziah remains adamant that all the processed materials from the rare earth, if beneficial, should be sent to Australia for their industry.

“Why don’t they do the same and send it back to Australia? When they dilute it and it becomes a recycled product, it will no longer be classified as radioactive waste,” she said.

Meanwhile, The Australian quoted a Lynas spokesperson as saying that the company was in talks to meet the Malaysian government’s requirements. However, the spokesperson said a review of its plant last year did not require the waste to be shipped out of the country.

Last year, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin called on Lynas to honour its commitment to ship out its waste, considering the risk of residue accumulation.

Lynas, however, asserts that removal of the WLP residue from the country is only needed if all other options fail.