KUANTAN: Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Lynas) said today it is confident of satisfying the Cabinet’s request for it to build a permanent deposit facility (PDF) for the water leach purification (WLP) residue produced by its rare earth plant in Gebeng near here.

Its chief executive officer, Amanda Lacaze, said Lynas will accelerate the planning and construction of the PDF.

Lynas is required to obtain consent for the location of the PDF within six months.

“Lynas Malaysia’s PDF Planning Framework and Site Selection Plan have previously been approved by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB). In addition, the Pahang state government has given written approval to locate a PDF in the state,“ she said in a statement.

Lacaze said this is consistent with the recommendation of the Pakatan Harapan government’s executive review committee in December 2018 or, alternatively, Lynas can obtain consent from another country to receive the material.

She also noted that Lynas previously had deposited a total of US$42.2 million (RM176.5 million) with the AELB in cash and cash-backed bonds, and has been required to spend 0.5% of annual gross sales on research and development activities related to the used of WLP residue as Condisoil in agriculture.

Condisoil is a soil conditioner derived from residue produced by the Lynas rare earth plant.

The government has renewed Lynas’s licence for another six months, but with three conditions.

Lynas will have to move its cracking and leaching process, which is currently conducted at its plant in Gebeng, here, out of the country. Lynas will have to identify a specific site to construct a PDF and to obtain written permission from the state government for the use of that site. Lynas will have to end all research and development activities related to the use of the radioactive WLP residue as Condisoil in the field of agriculture.

Lacaze said that under the new agreement Lynas is no longer required to spend 0.5% of its annual gross profit on research and development but contribute the percentage sum to the government as additional security until cracking and leaching commences operations in Australia.

“The relevant portion of these security amounts is expected to be available for the PDF construction project. However, further information will be provided on costs and timetable as this project progresses,“ she said.

Lacaze thanked the government for its decision to allow Lynas a six-month extension to its operating licence with the conditions and hoped it will encourage other international businesses to invest in downstream manufacturing in Malaysia.

“We reaffirm the company’s commitment to our people, 97 people of whom are Malaysian, and to further developing Malaysia’s position as a global rare earth centre of excellence.

“We are optimistic that this decision will bring an end to the politicisation of Lynas over the past year. Lynas will continue to make a positive contribution to the Malaysian economy and to Malaysia’s Industry 4.0 vision,“ she said.

Lynas, according to Lacaze, has demonstrated that its operations are safe and is an excellent foreign direct investor by creating over 1,000 direct jobs and has spent over RM600 million in the local economy each year.

Lacaze noted that Lynas will work closely with community members to ensure that they have up to date and accurate information about its operations. — Bernama