Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau) engaged in a lengthy answer in Parliament today when asked by former minister Yeo Bee Yin (Harapan-Bakri) if he agreed that the conditions for Lynas to continue operating its rare earth plant were now stricter than under BN’s rule.
Instead of directly answering this aspect of Yeo’s question, Khairy chose to focus on whether or not there were any conditions under which Lynas could lose its licence.
“Lynas holds the licence and must establish the permanent disposal facility (PDF) – at the appropriate location – within the first year of the licence approval.
“It is now in the process of conducting all relevant studies such as the detailed environmental impact study.
“If Lynas is not able to start the PDF development process within a period of one year from its licence extension, which was in March this year, then the licence may be retracted,” he said.
Khairy also went into a long explanation on the history of Lynas’ operations in Gebeng, Pahang.
He added that during the BN administration, the government did allocate time for research and development to find out if water leach purification could be converted to Condisoil – a commercial product based on Lynas’ neutralisation underflow residue (NUF) waste – but Yeo had ordered a halt into this research, leaving the PDF as the available option.
When he finished, an exasperated Yeo exclaimed that he had failed to answer her question.
Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh, who is consistently involved in the Lynas issue, was unable to get a supplementary question in.
Earlier, Noh Omar (BN-Tanjung Karang) accused Harapan of double standards, saying that he found it strange that when Harapan was in the opposition it had strongly opposed Lynas, but was able to accept it once it held government.
“When BN did something it was wrong, but when Harapan did the same thing it was correct,” he said.
To this, Khairy said he had records of a signature campaign for “Harapan untuk Malaysia” (Harapan for Malaysia) in 2012, of which no less than 13 Harapan ministers had signed a petition calling for Lynas’ closure.
In February, Lynas announced that its rare earth processing plant in Gebeng had received a three-year extension on its operating licence from the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) until March 2023, and that the licence renewal came with four conditions.
The conditions are:
- Lynas is to begin the process of developing the permanent PDF within the first year from the date of the licence approval;
- Lynas must submit a work development plan for the construction of the PDF and report on its development status as determined by the AELB;
- Lynas must ensure that the cracking and leaching plant outside Malaysia is in operation before July 2023. After that period, Lynas will no longer be allowed to import raw materials containing naturally occurring radioactive material into Malaysia; and
- The holding of the financial deposit will be maintained for compliance with the relevant licence conditions. – Malaysiakini