Ly­nas faces li­cens­ing hur­dle

The Australian Mining Review - - NEWS: INTERNATIONAL - EMMA DAVIES

AUS­TRALIAN rare earths miner Ly­nas Cor­po­ra­tion re­mains pos­i­tive it can reach “an ap­pro­pri­ate out­come” af­ter strin­gent en­vi­ron­men­tal de­mands were made for its Malaysian pro­cess­ing op­er­a­tions’ li­cense re­newal.

Ly­nas owns the Mt Weld rare earths mine in WA, and the Ly­nas Ad­vanced Ma­te­ri­als Plant (LAMP) in Malaysia – one of the largest and most mod­ern rare earth sep­a­ra­tion plants in the world.

In De­cem­ber, a state­ment from Malaysia’s Min­is­ter for En­ergy, Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy, En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change ( MESTECC) ex­pressed con­cerns over Ly­nas’ pro­cess­ing plant site and set new con­di­tions for the com­pany to meet ahead of its li­cense re­newal in Septem­ber 2019.

Con­di­tions in­cluded the ex­port of Wa­ter Leach Pu­rifi­ca­tion (WLP) residue and the sub­mis­sion of an ac­tion plan on the dis­posal of Neu­tral­iza­tion Un­der­flow Residue (NUF), as cur­rent ap­proval was only valid un­til Fe­bru­ary.

In a state­ment, Ly­nas said the pre­coni­di­tions were in­con­sis­tent with the Re­view Com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tion re­leased the same day, that Ly­nas Malaysia should de­ter­mine the lo­ca­tion of and build a per­ma­nent dis­posal fa­cil­ity (PDF) for the WLP residue.

“The po­ten­tial con­struc­tion of a PDF for WLP residue has al­ways been part of our plan­ning,” the com­pany stated.

“It is pro­vided for in our fi­nan­cial state­ments and by way of the PDF bond in ex­cess of $US34 mil­lion that is held by the Malaysian reg­u­la­tor.

“Ly­nas’ li­cense 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.”

Ly­nas said it was one of a num­ber of in­dus­tries in Malaysia with feed­stock that pro­duces residues with low level ra­dioac­tiv­ity, 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 2 Septem­ber 2019, in­clud­ing le­gal op­tions,” it stated.

Ly­nas’ share price dropped by about 26 per cent af­ter the con­di­tions were set.

The Re­view Com­mit­tee re­port on Ly­nas’ op­er­a­tions was also re­leased on 4 De­cem­ber, which was drafted af­ter an ex­ten­sive tour of Ly­nas’ op­er­a­tions, re­viewed data from Ly­nas’ mon­i­tor­ing, rel­e­vant reg­u­la­tors and peer-re­viewed re­search, and meet­ings with reg­u­la­tors, in­de­pen­dent ex­perts and lo­cal com­mu­nity mem­bers.

The re­port con­cluded Ly­nas Malaysia’s op­er­a­tions were low risk and com­pli­ant with ap­pli­ca­ble laws.

“We thank the Re­view Com­mit­tee for its dili­gent and thor­ough ap­proach,” Ly­nas chief ex­ec­u­tive and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Amanda Lacaze said.

She added the com­pany was sur­prised with the Min­istry’s de­ci­sion to im­pose the pre-con­di­tions, and they were in­con­sis­tent with the sci­ence, in­ter­na­tional best prac­tice as well as with the ex­pert Re­view Com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

“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,” she said.

“How­ever, we are con­fi­dent we are well placed to man­age po­ten­tial changes and our long term in­vest­ment the­sis re­mains strong.”

Im­age:Ly­nasCor­po­ra­tion.

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