Rare earths radioactive row

A SENIOR Malaysian politician says the Australian government has been asked to collaborate on the removal of low-level radioactive waste produced by Lynas Corporation's rare earths processing operations,the Australian Financial Review newspaper has reported.
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Deputy Environment Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis

Staff Reporter

Deputy Environment Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis said an official letter requesting collaboration had been sent to the Australian government last month, in another sign Malaysia is determined to have the waste removed despite suggestions from Lynas it is close to resolving the issue through other options.
 
Malaysia's move to engage the Australian government comes as Wesfarmers continues to pursue a $1.5 billion takeover offer for Lynas and an associated plan to overcome the waste issue by processing rare earths mined in Western Australia onshore.
 
However, Wesfarmers has been warned to consider the tale of a US-listed company that came badly unstuck in the rare earths processing industry.
 
CLSA mining analyst Dylan Kelly raised the Molycorp case study in casting doubt on the wisdom of Wesfarmers investing in on-shore processing as a means to overcome waste-disposal issues in Malaysia.
 
Molycorp listed in 2009 after raising capital to restart, expand and modernise a processing plant associated with Mountain Pass rare earths mine in California.
 
However, it ran into problems after opting to demolish the old plant, historically the source of globally significant production, and build a new one.
 
The Australian Financial Review says the project suffered delays and costs tripled to $1.55 billion. The plant could not consistently hit the target run rate and eventually Molycorp filed for bankruptcy with debts of $1.7 billion.
 

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