Critical minerals producer Lynas Rare Earths has received an extension to its operating licence for its metals manufacturing plant in Malaysia – but only until 1 January, 2024.
Announced by Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, the reprieve means the company will now be able to continue to import lanthanide concentrate from Australia
Lynas mines rare earths at Mt Weld in Western Australia, is building a semi-processing facility at Kalgoorlie, and sited its metals plant production needed for permanent magnets used in electric vehicles, electric motors, computer drives, medical devices and defence equipment in Malaysia.
However environmentalists in Malaysia have been waging a battle to close the Malaysian plant which produces radioactive by products, with Lynas fighting to keep operating.
Lynas plays a critical role in the supply of critical metals as the largest producer of rare earths outside China, highlighted by a recent capital injection into the company by Japanese users.
The latest licence variation allows Lynas’ cracking and leaching plant to continue to operate, and removes a requirement that the company shut down the plant prior to January 1 next year.
The company had applied to the Minister to remove the closure condition as it represents ‘a significant variation from the conditions under which Lynas made the initial decision to invest in Malaysia’, according to a statement.
Malaysia offers legal avenues for the company to pursue a review of licence conditions.
“Lynas has made significant investments in its Malaysian facility and will seek review through these processes in respect of the conditions to ensure that Lynas is treated fairly and equitably as a Foreign DFirect Investor and as a significant employer and contributor to the Malaysian economy.”
Picture: Lynas Rare Earths/Malaysia metals plant