Open letter from Lynas


Lynas CEO and managing director Amanda Lacaze says the government's decision to impose conditions on its rare earth processing facility is a political decision and is not based on science. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, December 6, 2018.

ADVERTORIAL

SALAM Sejahtera,

On October 2, I wrote a letter to the people of Malaysia.

Today, I am writing to you again to inform you that the review committee has completed its review of Lynas Malaysia’s operations.

We welcome the publication of their report and take this opportunity to restate our commitment to Malaysia.

Review Committee Report

Lynas Malaysia is pleased to advise that the review committee report in respect of Lynas Malaysia was posted online on Tuesday. You can access a copy of the report via the MESTECC website, www.mestecc.gov.my.

The report finds Lynas Malaysia’s operations are low risk and comply with applicable laws. This is consistent with our “zero harm” philosophy and with the findings of all 7 previous reviews in Malaysia (comprising 2 IAEA reports, a parliamentary select committee and 4 court challenges).

Lynas CEO Amanda Lacaze said: “We thank the review committee for its diligent and thorough approach. I would like to thank all our employees who have demonstrated their resilience and their commitment to Lynas Malaysia, to our communities, and to our high standards of safety and performance. I would also like to thank our local communities in the Gebeng area for their ongoing support of Lynas Malaysia.”

The review committee conducted an extensive tour of Lynas’ operations, reviewed data from Lynas’ monitoring, relevant regulators and peer-reviewed research, and met with regulators, independent experts and local community members.

The review committee identified many positive aspects of Lynas Malaysia’s operations, including:

  • The operations are based on controlled technologies and procedures with low risk.
  • Lynas Malaysia voluntarily adopts international standards and practices.
  • Lynas Malaysia meets quality investment criteria of high technology industries, with an emphasis on R&D and creating high-performance jobs with skills and knowledge-intensive jobs.
  • Employees’ exposures to radiation and non-radiation hazards were below the permitted level and occupational health surveillance does not show any disparity in health status.

We regard any review as an opportunity to improve and we will seek to voluntarily implement the review committee’s recommendations. The recommendations include for Lynas to:

  • Prepare and build safe storage sites for NUF residues and prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for this purpose.
  • Determine the location and build a permanent disposal facility (PDF) for the WLP residue, including identifying sites for PDF construction before the renewal of the next licence.
  • Be prepared to export WLP residues from Malaysia if the PDF location is not identified or approved.
  • Continue all studies on recycling of NUF residue.
  • Carry out studies to reduce the residues produced by looking at process improvement and modification to reduce waste generation based on residual waste management hierarchy that specify the reduction of waste as a primary criteria.
  • Conduct groundwater monitoring and conduct studies on the Balok River aquatic ecosystem including biological monitoring.
  • Devise more effective communication strategies to provide the public and civil society groups with more accurate and up-to-date facts.

The review committee also provided the following recommendations for implementation by the government:

  • Establish an independent research and development (R&D) committee funded by Lynas. The scope of the R&D to be carried out should be expanded to include the development of downstream industries as well as other areas covering health, social sciences, socio-economic, entrepreneurship and others.
  • Create a community health surveillance system.
  • Establish a monitoring committee including relevant ministries/departments, experts in the identified field, representatives from civil society groups, local representatives, Lynas management and other stakeholders.

The review committee noted the general public’s confusion in assessing the impact of radiation from a rare earths plant processing material containing naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) versus a nuclear plant.

The review committee also noted that high-tech industries that use NORM are the industries that will grow rapidly in the future. It recommended that the government look at the development of the industry holistically to create appropriate ecosystems supported by legislation, governance, education, human capital development, R&D&I (research and development and innovation) and ethics that meet the latest international standards to achieve sustainable development and investment.

Ministry statement

The Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry (MESTECC) also released a statement on December 4 relating to the decision of the ministry to subject Lynas Malaysia to two new preconditions for its licence renewal on September 2, 2019 and future permission renewals in relation to residue management (detailed below).  The statement is available via the MESTECC Twitter page.

This is disappointing as the Ministry’s intention to impose new conditions contradicts a media statement issued on October 30 by MESTECC which stated that the cabinet would review the review committee’s report before any decisions were announced. This process does not appear to have been followed.

The statement issued on Tuesday refers to the management of the 2 solid residues, WLP and NUF. Lynas stores these residues in approved facilities that meet international best practice to ensure the safety of our people, surrounding communities and the environment. We also note that this material is high in moisture i.e. Malaysian water represents over 40% of the volume of materials quoted in the ministerial statement.

According to the statement, the two new preconditions are:

  • The export of water leach purification (WLP) residue before September 2, 2019.

This precondition is inconsistent with the review committee’s recommendation that Lynas Malaysia should determine the location of and build a permanent disposal facility (PDF) for the WLP residue, including identifying sites for PDF construction, before the renewal of the licence. The review committee noted that Lynas should be prepared to export WLP residues from Malaysia only if the PDF location is not identified or approved.

Lynas’ PDF planning framework and site selection plan have already been approved by the AELB and the Pahang state government has given an undertaking to site the PDF in Pahang, should it be required.

The potential construction of a PDF for WLP residue has always been part of our planning. It is provided for in our financial statements and by way of the PDF bond in excess of US$34 million (RM141 million) that is held by the Malaysian regulator.

Lynas has complied with all AELB licence conditions. These conditions were developed after extensive reviews by the Malaysia’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB), with the help of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and are monitored by the AELB.

Lynas’ licence conditions explicitly state that residues should be recycled, and if that fails, then they should be stored in a PDF. Export should only be considered if a PDF is not possible. The recommendations of the review committee are consistent with this sequence of events.

In addition, Lynas is one of a number of industries in Malaysia with feedstock that produces residues with low level radioactivity. Malaysia has strict regulations in place for residue management and there should not be one rule for other industries and one rule for Lynas.

We will consider all options available to us to achieve an appropriate outcome prior to September 2, 2019, including legal options.

  • Submission of an action plan on the disposal of NUF (current approval valid until February 15,  2019).

Lynas has already submitted an action plan and we will seek to accelerate our work with the Department of Environment to allow the execution of this plan including having the Lynas Malaysia plant designated as prescribed premises for the management and disposal of the NUF residue.

Our contributions as a foreign direct investor

The review committee’s report states that Lynas’ investment meets quality investment criteria of high-technology industries, including establishing value chains for industries, capital-intensive, export-oriented, high value-added products, emphasis on R&D and creating high-performance jobs with skills and knowledge-intensive jobs.

In addition to ensuring the safety of our operations, we recognise our duty as a foreign direct investor to provide employment opportunities for our local communities, and to successfully create economic value for Malaysia. To date, Lynas Malaysia has created over 1,000 direct jobs and over 4,000 local jobs in total. 97% of our staff are Malaysian and our employees benefit from skilled jobs that pay 4 times the average salary in Pahang, and 2.5 times the national average salary.

Since 2008, Lynas has contributed RM2.6 billion in foreign direct investment, including capital investment in our state-of-the-art plant. In addition, our suppliers have made capital investments of RM300 million. We have established a capable supply chain that can be used to develop further downstream local industries.

Our people are active members of our local communities and we contribute to improved education and health outcomes for local community members. We offer school, intern and graduate programmes and many of our employees are involved as supporters and volunteers for local community services.

Summary

Lynas is pleased that the review committee’s report finds Lynas Malaysia’s operations are low risk and that Lynas Malaysia complies with applicable laws. We welcome the opportunity to continue to improve our business based on the review committee’s recommendations.

We are surprised with the ministry’s decision to impose a precondition that does not follow the process outlined in October, and which is inconsistent with the science, inconsistent with the expert review committee’s recommendations and is contrary to international best practice.

This appears to be policy based on politics, not policy based on science. It is very disappointing to receive this on the same day that the review committee report was released. However, we are confident we are well placed to manage potential changes and our long term investment thesis remains strong.

Lynas is recognised as a global leader in the rare earths industry. We have a strong commitment to Malaysia and we are continuing to explore opportunities to grow with the markets in which we operate. – December 6, 2018.

* Amanda Lacaze is the managing director and CEO of Lynas.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.


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Comments


  • We should have never allowed Lynas to operate here in Malaysia in the first place to begin with.

    Posted 2 years ago by Teruna Kelana · Reply

  • Yes. See the report she mentioned. Inside the report see the link at page 3. Follow that link to the full report. See page 81 for non-compliance. Thank you.

    Posted 2 years ago by Lynas no · Reply

  • You can search for KEPUTUSAN KEMENTERIAN BERDASARKAN LAPORAN JAWATANKUASA EKSEKUTIF PENILAIAN MENGENAI OPERASI LYNAS ADVANCED MATERIALS PLANT (LAMP) DI GEBENG, PAHANG dated 5th December 2018 which at page 3 refers to full report titled Laporan Jawatankuasa Eksekutif Penilaian Operasi Lynas (LAMP). Within the full report, page 81 is non-compliance by Lynas. Of course the CEO fails to mention this part.

    Posted 2 years ago by Lynas no · Reply

  • Lynas PR campaign been laying it on thick for a while now. Don't really care how many workers and family pictures they put in theStar

    Posted 2 years ago by Lynas no · Reply

  • Please understand the difference between a chemical plant and a nuclear plant. The ignorance of some people is really embarrassing.

    Posted 2 years ago by Cheng long lu · Reply

    • Agree, this Lynas thing was politicised too much. Really look Malaysian engineers, scientists are idiots.

      Posted 2 years ago by Azmin Ishak · Reply

  • Lynas should remove all waste products in the course of extraction of rare earth, back to Australia. No ifs, no buts. Malaysia is not the rubbish dump that Australia can dump all the harmful waste in the country as it likes. Otherwise please relocate the factory to any country it deem suitable for its operation and production.

    Posted 2 years ago by Jackal Way · Reply

  • Right from the very beginning, the IAEA team declared that a PDF (Permanent Disposal Facility) should be built to handle wastes arising from REE (Rare Earth Elements) extraction. A PDF continues to be non-existent today. If Lynas management had done so at the start, you would not be in such a pickle today --- i.e. wastes containing radioactive thorium and radioactive uranium piling up and up on-site.

    Posted 2 years ago by Kai Lit Phua · Reply

  • Malaysia cannot change goal posts at its fancy. If the condition states recycle first, then store, then last resort remove. Then it should be followed. Now I see the government prevents Lynas from recycling, states there is no place for PDF and wants residue to be removed overseas. This is wrong. Very unethical.

    All industries that deal with low radiation should be treated the same. You cannot single out Lynas and impose harsher rules. If they need to remove things out of the country, likewise should everyone else dealing with low level radiation material. Malaysia is very wrong in this.

    Till now I also have not seen any evidence of harmful radiation.

    Posted 2 years ago by Cheng long lu · Reply

    • I see the remnants of the Anti-Malaysian Lynas Cheerleading squad have migrated from MK to TMI. Squawk and sputter all you want Ms A Lacaze, you have always been thrifty with the truth and remain obsfucative even now. You and your cyber squad are as toxic as the waste you refuse to remove from our shores. Hop on back to Australia why dont you mate.

      Posted 2 years ago by Mahsuri Smiles · Reply

    • The paid for trooper that is named Cheng Long Lu...please name me just one other of these industries that deal with low radiation that is operating in Malaysia and subject to less harsh rules than Lynas is faced with? The very fact that Lynas are fighting so desperately now is because they know only too well they would never be able to operate in the same bullshit manner they have been all this while under the previous corrupt UMNO government back in their own home country, since the environmental laws there are even harsher. Stop talking absolute bull crap.

      Posted 2 years ago by Mahsuri Smiles · Reply

    • And finally, Ms. Lacarze...spare me your sanctimonious salam sejahteras. If you so believe that your waste produce is so safe, please publish a video of you drinking a glass of boiled water from any river source located nearest to your site.

      Posted 2 years ago by Mahsuri Smiles · Reply

    • Sorry to disappoint you that I am not paid to post stuff on internet. Wish if I am. I am just a Malaysian like you.

      Until now I have not seen any evidence of radiation harm. Until I see this, it is wrong to discriminate against them and set different rules for them.

      There are naturally occurring radiation material. You have this in soil and rocks, even in your garden. That's one of the reasons why background radiation is different from places to places. This the stuff Lynas dealing with. So do other mining industries, oil & gas industries. Should they ship their stuff out of the country too?

      Scientific review have consistently stated Lynas is low risk but our politicians state otherwise.

      Posted 2 years ago by Cheng long lu · Reply

    • My apologies then if this is in fact your genuine view cheng...so i invite you to join Amanda in to have that same glass of water too

      Posted 2 years ago by Mahsuri Smiles · Reply

    • "Citing the Environment Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005, Yeo said the present government regulations only allow a limit of 20 metric tonnes of scheduled waste to be stored on site for 180 days or lesser.

      They (Lynas) are applying for exemption and they have accumulated 1.113mil metric tonnes of scheduled waste over the period of six years, she pointed out."

      -Yeo Bee Yin, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change [Minister


      [The regulation in particular is 9(5)(a)]

      Ok Cheng Long Lu. The rest of it we place at your house ok? That's 1112980 metric tons total.

      Posted 2 years ago by Lynas no · Reply