Friday 29 November 2013

Lynas thwarts critics’ attempts to alert shareholders to risks in Gebeng plant

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Lynas thwarts critics’ attempts to alert shareholders to risks in Gebeng plant
BY TRINNA LEONG from the malaysian insider
NOVEMBER 29, 2013
Australian mining firm Lynas today thwarted efforts by environmental group Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) to alert shareholders to the risks posed by its refinery plant in Gebeng, Pahang.
“One shareholder urged the board to allow us to share with the others what’s happening in Malaysia but it was denied,” SMSL chairman Tan Bun Teet told The Malaysian Insider after the company’s annual general meeting at its headquarters in Sydney.
“When questions were raised asking for more information, the chair conveniently forgot about it,” he said.

Tan said questions related to the refinery in Malaysia were brushed aside, with former Lynas chairman Nicholas Curtis limiting the topics that could be discussed during the meeting.
“Our questions to the board were either partly answered or totally ignored,” he said.
“The entire meeting was orchestrated to keep shareholders under-informed.”
The RM2.5 billion plant near Kuantan has been mired in controversies over concerns that the processing of rare earth ores from Australia would have a disastrous impact on the health of some 700,000 people within a less than 30km radius of the facility.
A report published by German think-thank Oeko Institute earlier this year highlighted the plant’s failure to prepare a safe disposal facility. The plant’s poor waste management system also remains a cause for concern as residents fear that radioactive leakages may occur.
SMSL, together with another NGO, Himpunan Hijau, sent several representatives to Sydney this week to attend the firm’s meeting. The groups had wanted to pressure the company’s board of directors to close its Pahang plant by encouraging its shareholders to stop backing the company.
“We told the shareholders that the road ahead for Lynas will not be smooth sailing with millions to be paid in litigation costs from anti-Lynas campaigns,” Tan said.
Tan said it was clear shareholders were not happy with Lynas’s performance after doing poorly on the Australian bourse the past year.
Lynas’s shares have been on the decline since January, sliding from $0.72 (RM2.11) to $0.30 (RM0.88) today, according to data from Bloomberg.
The company has been suffering financially after prices of rare earth fell over the past few months while operational delays at the Gebeng plant also placed a strain on its budget.
Tan also said Lynas was tight-lipped on its strategies to bounce back next year and the firm could not even promise to meet its target production of 11,000 tonnes in 2014.
“Instead of answering questions on how Lynas could meet its target production of 11,000 tonnes in the first quarter next year, Nick only informed shareholders that the plant will produce according to market needs. There was no elaboration on how the company is going to turn around financially in 2014,” he said.
“Most shareholders left even before the meeting was over,” he added.
Outside Lynas’s headquarters, several NGOs had gathered, including Australian anti-Lynas groups, SMSL and Himpunan Hijau, to urge shareholders to stop backing firms with bad practices abroad.
“Many people don’t realise how serious the activities of Australian mining companies overseas are, and their ability to get away with a flagrant disregard for people, the environment and the law,” said Thulsi Narayanasamy, director of independent watchdog Aidwatch. - November 29, 2013.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Australian NGOs join Malaysian anti-Lynas camp-out in Sydney

Australian NGOs join Malaysian anti-Lynas camp-out in Sydney 


An anti-Lynas rally in Kuantan on June 24, 2012. — File pic
An anti-Lynas rally in Kuantan on June 24, 2012. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — Several Australian non-government organisations (NGO) today joined 16 Malaysian delegates in their protest outside Lynas Corporations’ shareholders meeting in Sydney, urging shareholders to divest from the controversial company., an affiliate campaign of Friends of the Earth Australia, along with Beyond Nuclear Initiative, and AidWatch joined the call for Lynas to shut down its Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan and leave Malaysia. 

The NGOs claimed the rare earth refinery was a bad investment for the country and had no social licence to operate.

Beyond Nuclear Initiative (BNI) coordinator Natalie Wasley said the Australian initiative supported and commended the mass movement in Malaysia against Lynas. 

“The LAMP proposal will leave a radioactive legacy for Malaysia’s future generations and fails environmental and social justice tests. 

“Tens of thousands of mothers in Malaysia like myself share the same commitment in shutting Lynas down. We ask Lynas shareholders to reconsider whether Lynas is really a good investment and to divest,” Wasley said in a statement here. 

Although Australia is a signatory to the Basel Convention Control, which is aimed at reducing the international movement of hazardous waste, an August report said Lynas would keep its temporary operating licence (TOL) until plans for a permanent waste disposal facility were approved. The plan was submitted in early July. 

The protest comes on the heels of a three-day occupation outside the Lynas headquarters. Himpunan Hijau has been ramping up its protest efforts after the signature drive it launched in August where they were said to have met their target of one million signatures in 36 days.  

The group said that 1.2 million Malaysians had to date signed its petition of protest in their bid to get the Lynas plant to close down its operations in Kuantan.  

On November 20 last year, activists from the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) group had similarly protested outside Lynas Corporation’s headquarters during the company’s AGM.  

On September 3 last year, the Malaysian regulator Atomic Energy Licensing Board granted Lynas (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd its TOL, which came with several conditions. AELB director-general Raja Datuk Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan had then said the TOL would be for a two-year period that would end on September 2, 2014.  

Environmental activists have raised health and safety concerns over the RM2.5 billion plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.  

“Here is yet another example of an Australian mining company operating abroad despite ongoing and widespread opposition from locals in addition to well-founded environmental concerns,” Aidwatch director Thulsi Narayanasamy said in a statement. 

“Many people don’t realise how serious the activities of Australian mining companies overseas are, and their ability to get away with a flagrant disregard for people, the environment and the law.” 

Himpunan Hijau is today also joined by members of SMSL, who are expected to ask questions of Lynas directors at the shareholders meeting. 

SMSL spokesman Tan Bun Teet said the shareholders had the right to know the truth, stressing that the organisation would continue with its campaign until the plant was shut down. 

“We cannot accept another toxic legacy when the Malaysian Government has such a bad track record in dealing with toxic radioactive waste which continues to pose great risk and hazards to the tax-paying citizens when Lynas gets away paying no tax,” he said. 

For the past two years the biggest environmental movement in Malaysia has formed in response to the Australian rare earth miner’s controversial effort to build the world’s largest industrial rare earth refinery, the LAMP. 

Himpunan Hijau chairman Wong Tack, who had led a 14-day 300-km walk, the Green Walk, from Kuantan to Kuala Lumpur last year in protest against the Lynas project, threatened that more Malaysians would come out to protest if the plant was not shut down by next year. 

“We are giving Lynas a deadline to pull out by June 29, 2014,” Wong said in a statement today. “If they don’t, that will be the date when millions of Malaysians will come to the streets to shut down this toxic plant. This is the message we give to Lynas and its shareholders.”

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Pictures taken from the Round Table Discussion and Seminar

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Experts Opinions of the Lynas Rare Earth Refinery Project in Malaysia

Press statement of Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL)
Experts Opinions of the Lynas Rare Earth Refinery Project in Malaysia

24 November 2013
From left, Tan Bun Teet (chairperson of SMSL), Wong Tack (chairperson of Himpunan Hijau), Theivanai (Enviromental lawyer, Friends of the Earth, Malaysia), Gerhard Schmidt (Senior scientist in Oeko Institute,  German), Dr. Yoshihiko Wada (PhD in Ecological Economics, Doshisha University, Japan), Dr. Peter Karamoskos (Nuclear Radiologist, Public representative in ARPANSA, Australia), Prof. Wang Guo Zheng (Senior scientist in China rare earth industry), Prof. Chan Chee Khoon (Epidemiology, Universiti Malaya)

This morning, about 150 concerned Malaysians attended a seminar to gain an in-depth understanding of the Lynas rare earth refinery project in Malaysia from imminent international and local experts at the Mandarin Court Hotel.  The experts have shared their knowledge of the issue and expressed concerns for Malaysia.

Expensive Toxic Legacy in the Making

Gerhard Schmidt, a Senior Scientist and a toxic and radioactive waste expert from the Oeko Institute in Germany has done a thorough analysis and evaluation of Lynas’ waste and pollution blue print.  He said.

“In Europe, past mistakes have costed the public a lot of money to clean up decades later till today, not counting the health care costs that might have resulted from the hazards. The Malaysian Government should take the scientific advice to require Lynas to manage its waste and pollution to international best practice standards and not to leave another expensive toxic legacy.”

SMSL has requested for meetings with the two regulators – the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) and the Department of Environment (DoE) as well as for a plant visit at the Lynas plant whilst our experts are around.  The government did not respond and Lynas wanted the visit to happen in December, by which time the experts are gone.

Dr Peter Karamoskos, a nuclear medicine physician and radiologist and the public representative on the Radiation Health Committee of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) explained to the audience how international radiation safety standards are set and promoted.  He commented,

“The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) acknowledges that radioactive waste poses a threat to human health and therefore must be managed properly in a scientifically sound manner.  We cannot determine if a project is safe until there is transparency both at the company and the governmental levels.  In the case of Lynas, the lack of transparency is a major problem. Malaysia really has to make sure its regulation is implemented to prevent any runaway risk to the public for many generations to come.”

Financing of a Toxic Project

The Lynas project was made possible through finance provided by the Japanese Government through the Japan Oil, Gas and Metal Corporation (JOGMEC).  Professor Yoshihiko Wada from the Doshisha University in Kyoto said,

“We have to work together to fight the tyranny of economic supremacy that put profit above people and the environment.  We need to make the Japanese Government more accountable for their financing. We have to make sure that their investment is done in accordance with their own established ‘Environmental and Social Guidelines.’[1].

“I urge concerned Malaysians to use this leverage to exert political pressure on the Japanese government.  We can request for formal inquiries that can be submitted through Members of the Diet (Parliamentarians), as well as educating the mainstream media.”  He added.

Is a safe rare earth plant possible?

If Lynas is serious about its corporate social responsibility and to live up to its ‘green’ image, the findings and recommendations of the Oeko evaluation report should have prompted the Australian company to change or at least initiate the following:

       a completely new waste management concept to comply with international best practice,

       build new interim storages for their wastes with a really thick liner underneath to prevent leaks,

       a site for a Permanent Disposal Facility (PDF) with excellent isolation conditions and nominated in consent with the then-affected communities,

       an additional cleaning stage for acids in their off-gas treatment stage added.

Mr Schmidt remarked, “To my disappointment Lynas has not done that and the Malaysian Government has not acted in its duty of care to make Lynas do that in the interest of its citizens and the environment and for the country’s long-term well beings.”

Mr Tan Bun Teet from SMSL concluded “Our government kept claiming that the Lynas plant is scientifically safe. This is why we have sought scientific input from credible and independent scientists and professionals who can provide us with their opinion and views without prejudice, fear or favour.  We will continue to campaign on the Lynas issue to build a safer Malaysia.  This is just another step we have taken.”

For further comments or contact of any of the experts, please contact SMSL hotline number 012 982 3302.

[1] Refer to the publication of JICA and JBIC, "Safety and Standard Policy"of JOGMEC

Problems at Lynas factory can cause radioactive leaks, say experts

Problems at Lynas factory can cause radioactive leaks, say experts

NOVEMBER 24, 2013
Prevailing problems in waste management, storage, disposal facility and waste cleaning at the Lynas factory can lead to radioactive leakages if the Australian firm fails to address the issues, said experts t at a seminar in Kuala Lumpur today.
The mining company's refinery near Kuantan, Pahang, has several problems, which experts said in the event of an accident or carelessness, could harm to residents near the factory.
"The factory has limited storage capacity and the waste is stored in a poor liner system," said Dr Gerhard Schmidt, a chemist from the Oeko Institute in Germany.
Schmidt explained that the institute's report on the refinery published earlier this year showed that Lynas is using single layer high density polyethylene (HDPE) lining to hold the water leach purification, the by-products of mining industries, in storage.
Meanwhile, its report stated that the "state of the art design would use 2.5mm HDPE and at least two 25cm layers of clay". The factory was found to use 1mm HDPE and a single 30cm layer of clay.
"One layer isn't sufficient since these sheets have to be welded on the spot and if its thickness is insufficient or if the sheet was not welded properly, leaks can occur," Schmidt said in the event hosted by Pertubuhan Solidariti Hijau Kuantan (PSHK), an NGO protesting the factory's operations.
"I thought after publishing the report Lynas had addressed the four recommendations proposed by the institute but it turned out to be otherwise," he added.
Concerns about Lynas’s disposal of radioactive materials began in 2011 after residents feared that its refinery plant in Gebeng would affect some 700,000 people living within less than a 30km radius of the facility.
According to earlier reports, the Gebeng refinery known as Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) produces a by-product known as Thorium (Th), a radioactive element that causes cancer and is easily transported through wind and water.
Worried over the danger of leakages, environmental lawyer Theivanai Amarthalingam said that the scientist's concern should be given due diligence before an accident occurs.
"There's no guarantee that a storage facility can be kept safe for a hundred or a thousand years," she said.
Experts present pointed out that Lynas has been able to conduct its operations without proper check and balance due to regulatory flaws within the Atomic Energy Licensing Act 1984 and the lack of willpower by enforcement agencies to independently do its job.
"The Act is not up to international standards and it doesn't take into account aspects of rare earth plants, disposal and safety measures," said Theivanai.
The Act was last amended in 2006, before Lynas began operations this February.
"Section 11 of the law allows the minister to direct regulators toward certain policies and so there's massive conflict of interest," said Dr Peter Karamoskos, an Australian nuclear radiologist.
"It doesn't promote independence of a regulatory body when their boss, a minister, says that the plant is as safe as a soy sauce factory," Karamoskos added.
In September, Deputy Science Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah had said after visiting the Gebeng plant that he found "the Lynas factory is as safe as a kicap (soy sauce) factory".
Karamoskos said that recommendations by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on disposal of waste in a facility was "clearly not followed in Malaysia" and although Lynas has been doing poorly financially, the law requires for companies to have funds to conduct cleanup operations before it can set up shop.
The company had announced in September that its full year loss had grown to $107.4 million (about RM345 million) for the business year ending June 30, from $102.6 million the year before.
The loss was attributed in part to additional costs required to commission the Malaysian processing plant and the low price of rare earth product in the market has also contributed to the slump.
Despite numerous criticisms toward the risks the plant holds to its nearby residents, Schmidt said that Lynas had kept mum over the institute's report.
"There has been no official reaction by Lynas to refute our findings. Nothing at all," said Schmidt.
Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL), co-organiser of the seminar, announced that representatives of the group will head to Lynas' headquarters in Sydney, Australia, tomorrow to attend the firm's annual shareholders meeting on November 29.
"We will reveal to the shareholders the true conditions of the plant in Pahang," said Tan Boon Teet, spokesperson of SMSL.
Meanwhile, Himpunan Hijau's activist Wong Tack said that the lack of response from the government and Lynas is "frustrating" and that the NGOs involved with campaigning against the plant would give the company six months to cease operations.
"Six months from Lynas's AGM, we will have a shutdown campaign and hold a protest to close Lynas's operations," he said, affirming that a major street protest would be held on June 29, next year. - November 24, 2013.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Press statement of Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL)

Seminar : “Building a Safer Malaysia- Let’s work with the experts and learn from the Lynas Rare Earth Project”

20 November 2013

A seminar of imminent international and local experts will be held this Sunday 24th November at the Mandarin Court Hotel to reveal the true risks and hazards of the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP).

Mr Tan Bun Teet from SMSL said, “We are fortunate to have so many experts coming forward to share their scientific and technical knowledge as well as experience with us for Malaysia. They have all taken time out from their very busy schedule working mostly pro-bono to support us in our endeavours to fight for a safer and cleaner Malaysia.”

Of the international experts are:

· Gerhard Schmidt, a Senior Scientist and a toxic and radioactive waste expert from the Oeko Institute in Germany who will give a critical overview of the Lynas waste and pollution management system and explain the implication of its deficiencies.

· Dr Peter Karamboskos, a practicing nuclear medicine physician and radiologist, an academic and the public representative on the Radiation Health Committee of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) will speak on the risks of the Lynas radioactive waste disposal proposals and the latest international radiation safety standard and guidelines

· Professor Wang Guo Zheng from China, an academic who has carried out extensive research into rare earth waste management will speak on the risks and hazards of recycling rare earth waste as proposed by Lynas

· Professor Yoshihiko Wada from the Faculty of Economics, Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan, is a specialist in environmental and social impact analysis of uranium and rare earth mining activities, nuclear energy development, as well as war. He will be speaking about the Unethical and Unsustainable Economic Model of "Exporting Pollution" based on the Lynas case study and the Japanese financing of the project.

Several high calibre local professionals will join our international experts to discuss and develop strategy forward to build a safer Malaysia.

“We hope thinking Malaysians will similarly come out to show the Government that we are determined to fight for a better future for this country!” Concluded Mr Tan

This seminar is open to all interested people. Should you require further information, please contact our hotline number 012 982 3302.

Building a Safer Malaysia - Seminar Program

‘Building a safer Malaysia-Let’s work with the Experts’
Mandarin Court Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
24th November 2013 (Sunday)


24th Nov
8.00-9.00 am

Registration of guests and participants
(10 mins)
Opening speech by Facilitator – Tan Johann

9.10-9.35 am
(25 mins)
Gerhard Schmidt –
Salient points of the Oeko Report 

9.35 -10.00 am
(25 mins)
Prof Chan Chee Koon
Health risks and hazards of REE industry

10.00-10.25 am
(25 mins)
Ms Theivanai Amarthalingam
A Legal perspective on the Lynas issue

10.25-10.45 am
(20 mins)

Q& A; Souvenir presentation ;
10.45-11.05 am
(20 mins)
 Tea break

11.05-11.30 am
(25 mins)
Peter Karamosko
Updated International Standards

11.30-11.55 am
(25 mins)
Prof Wang Guo Zheng (with Translation)
China’s latest regulatory measures and standards

11.55 -12.20 pm
(25 mins)
Presentation by Prof Yoshihiko Wada
Japan’s financial support and its implications

12.20- 12.40 pm
(20 mins)

Q & A; Presentation of souvenir
12.40-1.00 pm
(20 mins)

Press conference
1.00-1.40 pm
(40 mins)

1.40-2.40 pm
(60 mins)

2.40 -2.50 pm
Inter-session break

2.50-3.40 pm
(50 mins)
10 minutes each

3.40-4.30 pm
(50 mins)

4.30-4.50 pm
(20 mins)

Group Photo shoot
5.00 pm

End of Seminar