Wednesday 24 April 2019

Memorandum to Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir and Cabinet Ministers

Protect Malaysia and Stop Lynas from Polluting Our Environment

We, the undersigned NGOs and concerned individuals call on the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Climate Change (MESTECC) Yeo Bee Yin and Jawatankuasa Kaukus Parlimen Pantau Lynas (Parliamentary Caucus on Lynas) and all Cabinet Ministers to:

· Suspend Lynas’ operating licence to STOP Lynas polluting our precious environment and exposing the public to Lynas’ hazards for now and for future generations

· ENSURE that Lynas has a timeline to ship out the toxic waste before the expiry of its operating licence in mid-September

· Do not approved of Lynas’ application to turn its current waste storage site as a prescribed premise for its scheduled waste

· A high populated heavy rainfall wet tropical country like Malaysia cannot afford to sacrifice hundreds of hectares of precious land and pristine forest to create another risky tomb to isolate Lynas’ half a million tonnes of toxic waste

· ENSURE that the promised US$50 million deposit from Lynas is paid in full in cash, just in case Malaysia ends up having to carry out the Lynas clean up exercise.

Lynas is a 100% Australian-owned junior mining company that places profit before ethics, public and environmental health. It has denied scientific truth about the hazards from its waste and effluent, leaving them to pollute our environment since production started in 2012. A responsible Government would have shut down the plant, imposed heavy fine and ordered the company to remove its waste and clean up its contamination to as far as it has spread from the environment. Lynas’ hazards are cancer-causing radioactive thorium and uranium, toxic elements consist of heavy metals, arsenic and chemicals found in its toxic waste that should have been isolated from the environment.

We welcome Tun’s recent announcement to impose a new condition requiring Lynas to only bring in radioactive-free semi-processed feedstock for refining at its Malaysian plant. However, we are deeply concerned that despite Lynas’ own monitoring data showing that serious toxic heavy metals have contaminated our ground water since 2015, no action has been taken to stop these cancer-causing elements from entering our environment as Lynas continues with its operations to generate these hazards.

Our Regulators Have FAILED in their Duty of Care

Our regulators namely Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) and Department of Environment (DoE) have both failed in their duty of care to act in their mandated roles to enforce the law. No other business in the world have been allowed to store over 450,000 tonnes of toxic waste in the open wrapped up only with plastic sheets! No other business in Malaysia has been allowed to accumulate nearly 1.2 million tonnes of scheduled waste on site when our regulation has limited onsite storage of not more than 20 tonnes for up to 180 days! No decent regulator would remain silent and not verify the source or cause of serious toxic heavy metal contamination of the ground water when data from 2015-2016 have shown this problem, when 50 families in the local area are dependent on ground water for their daily uses.

Instead, these public funded ‘regulators’ have continued to sing praises to protect Lynas, despite scientific facts and data showing that Lynas’ waste disposal site is problematic as it is in a flood and fire prone low-lying porous peat mangrove with ground water table less than 1 metre from the surface. They have failed to critically verify Lynas’ misleading and false claims of zero harm and international best practice, putting our environment and local people at risk.

Lynas is a Liability for Malaysia

Ultimately, rakyat of Malaysia will end up paying for the Government’s failure in stopping this toxic rerun. Lynas’ toxic legacy will be many times far more costly than the Bukit Merah Asian Rare Earth legacy as the amount of radioactive and toxic waste generated has already exceeded that from ARE by 40 times. Malaysia will end up coping the high costs of cleaning up the Lynas toxic legacy site, deteriorating health outcomes of local people requiring expensive medical care when they start to suffer from known diseases associated with the kind of hazards Lynas has generated, which often take many years of bioaccumulation to manifest into chronic health conditions both for humans and the environment.

The quantity of thorium, uranium, heavy metals, toxic elements and chemicals in Lynas’ wastes pose significant hazards to require their total removal from Malaysia to avoid costly health and environmental disasters which often take a long time to surface for this kind of pollution. The paltry US$50 million Lynas has committed to the de-commissioning fund will not be enough to clean up the mess 40 times more than that generated by Mitsubishi’s Asian Rare Earth plant in Bukit Merah. Lynas’ attempt to make its current storage facility a permanent dump site in a peat swamp is grossly irresponsible given the serious contaminations problems that have already occurred.

Sustainable Investments Stem from Good Governance and Effective Administration

We recognise and acknowledge that Malaysia needs foreign investment. It is therefore even more pertinent that we present our beloved country as a conducive place to responsible corporations/companies to do business and operate in, based on good governance, high level of professionalism in our dealings and integrity in the way we conduct businesses. Malaysia will be an attractive investment destination if our Government uphold the law and restore order to create a fair and equal playing field for all. The PH Government has the power to make this happen.

MESTECC’s decision requiring Lynas to remove its toxic waste from the water-leached purification (WLP) stream is merely to hold Lynas accountable to its own undertakings made in 2012 to the then BN Government. By continuing to tolerate Lynas’ massive piles of wastes, we are sending the wrong signal that Malaysia is a third world nation desperate for toxic trade and polluting industries. In so doing, Malaysia has essentially undermined and disadvantaged many other responsible businesses that have taken pride in abiding to our environmental law and regulation through genuine actions to protect our environment and public health.

As civil society groups and individuals. we too have been particularly patient and tolerant, giving benefits of the doubt to the PH Government which we have helped put into power last May, We have largely held in good faith that PH Ministers and MPs would concertedly tackle the Lynas toxic waste problems to protect Malaysia and the Rakyat from its radioactive and toxic hazards.

Sustainable Development is a PH Promise to the Rakyat

We wish to remind all Ministers and Members of Parliaments of the Pakatan Harapan Manifesto, which your respective Party has signed onto before GE14. Janji/Promise 39 of the Manifesto stipulated that "Balancing the Development with Environmental Protection". Therefore, development decision from the PH Cabinet must lead to the security and well-being of the people and our environment.

Lynas is a poisoned chalice from the Najib era. It has no place in Malaysia and least of all if PH is committed to pursuing a sustainable development future. Sustainable development as promised in the PH Manifesto is only possible if the Government upholds our own law to restore order. Many of us have contributed and campaigned for PH to be elected.

Tun, we supported your leadership because we trust that you will act in Malaysia’s interest and that you will uphold your words to undo past mistakes. Lynas is a major mistake committed by the Najib regime. We now count on all of you whom we have voted into power, to right this wrong to pave the way for Malaysia to pursue a new clean and safe sustainable pathway of development.

MEDIA RELEASE | Wednesday 10th April, 2019

Australian environmental groups call for Lynas to deal with waste

Today, environmental and social justice organisations in Australia lend their support in solidarity with Malaysians. They demand that the Australian-owned rare earth miner, Lynas Corporation stop polluting Malaysia with its toxic radioactive waste, for its permit not to be renewed, and to start cleaning up the mess it has created.

“It is shameful that Lynas has taken advantage of the previous Malaysian Government, including a 1-year tax break, to speed up the approvals process in constructing and operating its rare earth processing plant, the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP). This was done without any detailed environmental impact assessment report, this would be completely unacceptable in Australia,” claimed Natalie Lowrey1, Stop Lynas Campaign Australia.

“The key problem with rare earth minerals1 is the very low concentration of the minerals in the ore and the presence of thorium and uranium radionuclides, together with toxic heavy metals and arsenic.”

“Such toxic substances, most of which are cancer-causing agents, are being left behind in the waste and effluent at the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant in Kuantan, Malaysia. There are also issues with the harsh reagent and corrosive acids used in the processing stages.”

Last May, a new Government came into power promising to fight corruption and bring in sweeping reforms for the country. A Ministerial Decision has been made following an executive review on Lynas to enforce the licence condition which Lynas has yet to follow through.

Dr Jim Green, National Nuclear Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Australia stated, “Malaysians have waged a mass movement for years to stop Lynas getting its operating license. The previous controversial Najib-run Government went ahead with the licence when Lynas gave the undertaking to remove its radioactive waste from Malaysia in December 2012.”3,4

“Lynas scammed its way to get the operating licence knowing full well that its radioactive waste had no safe long-term disposal plan. By putting the horses before the cart, Lynas has caused serious groundwater contamination, exposing the local community to its hazards.”5

“Lynas should start a proper clean-up of the contaminated groundwater and any pollution it is responsible for. Without any plan to deal with the waste, the Malaysian Government should seriously consider not renewing Lynas permit in September this year.”

Ms Lowrey, Stop Lynas Campaign Australia continued, “This is a gross violation of Lynas Corporations corporate environmental and social responsibility. The Lynas toxic supply chains are reasons why, as environmental groups, we have to be vigilant when recommending and promoting technological fixes as a solution to climate change. Profit-hungry corporations will always find loopholes to seek profit, by pushing their dirty operations to countries with the least means to tackle the complexities and hazards of industrial pollution.”

“Australia should legislate to have binding corporate regulation over Australian operations overseas. We have seen far too many mining disasters in developing countries with limited means to deal with.”

“It is way overdue for the Australian Government to clean up the Australian mining sector to stop them from tarnishing Australia’s reputation through gross violations and polluting activities overseas.”

For more info:

Natalie Lowrey, Stop Lynas Campaign Australia




1. ‘Arrests at Malaysian Rare Earths Refinery Protests’, The Diplomat, 27 June 2017,

Rare earth minerals are essentially raw materials for the digital and high technology industries, including supposedly ‘green’ or ‘smart’ technologies. This set of minerals are neither rare nor earth.
‘Joint Ministerial Statement on Lynas’, by YB. Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister of International Trade and Industry YB. Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation YB. Dato’ Sri Douglas Uggah Embas Minister of Natural Resources and Environment YB. Dato’ Sri Liow Tiong Lai Minister of Health, 22 February, 2012,
‘Joint Ministerial Statement on Lynas’, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, 12 Dec 2012,
Since 2013, Lynas has started to generate a massive amount of waste through its Malaysian plant located in a low-lying peat mangrove reserve near the port of Kuantan in Malaysia. To date, about half a million tonnes of waste contaminated with hundreds of thousands of tonnes of long-living radioactive thorium, uranium, toxic heavy metals, arsenic and copious amount of chemicals has been dumped by its plant. The Malaysian executive review report showed data of serious groundwater contamination from nickel, chromium, lead, and mercury all around Lynas’ waste storage facility from its own monitoring stations. Lynas has denied that it is the cause of the contamination.

Joint Statement from Environment groups calling for Lynas Corporation clean up its toxic radioactive mess in Malaysia

Wednesday 10 April, 2019

Friends of the Earth Australia and Stop Lynas Campaign Australia stand in solidarity with all Malaysians calling for Australian-owned rare earth miner Lynas Corporation to stop polluting Malaysia with its toxic radioactive waste and to start cleaning up the mess it has created.

We stand in solidarity with the peaceful mass movement across Malaysia that advocated for the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) to not be given an operating licence. Despite the lack of social licence it was approved by the previous controversial Najib-run Government - without a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment - when Lynas gave the undertaking to remove its radioactive waste from Malaysia in December 2012.

Toxic substances like thorium and uranium radionuclides, together with toxic heavy metals and arsenic, most of which are cancer-causing agents, are present in the ore of rare earth minerals. They are being left behind in the waste and effluent at the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant in Kuantan, Malaysia. There are also issues with the harsh reagent and corrosive acids used in the processing stages.

The Malaysian Government made a Ministerial Decision following an executive review on Lynas to enforce the licence condition that it would remove it radioactive waste from Malaysia. Lynas has yet to follow through with this condition. This is a gross violation of its corporate environmental and social responsibility.

Therefore, in solidarity with all Malaysian citizens we call on:

1. Lynas Coporration to clean up the toxic waste it has created at it Lynas Advanced Materials Plant in Malaysia;

2. The Australian government to legislate binding corporate regulation to prevent any further human rights or environmental violation of Australian corporations operations overseas; and

3. The Malaysian Government should not renew Lynas' permit in September this year while Lynas does not have a clear plan of how to deal safely and responsibly with the waste.

Press Statement

Cabinet Must Stop Lynas From Polluting Malaysia

10th April 2019

Together with Greenpeace Malaysia, SMSL is joined by hundreds of concerned Malaysians to demand that Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad and his Pakatan Harapan Cabinet take actions to protect Malaysia and to stop Australian Lynas Corporation from polluting the environment. Over 60 organisations have endorsed a memorandum with a list of demands which will be presented to Cabinet and the Parliamentary Caucus on Lynas.

Mr Tan Bun Teet, Chairman for SMSL says, “We welcome Tun’s announcement last Friday to impose a new condition requiring Lynas to only bring in semi-processed radioactive-free feedstock for refining through its Malaysian plant. However, what is going to happen to the half a million tonnes of toxic radioactive waste and the nearly 1.2 million tonnes of scheduled waste that Lynas has generated to date? These wastes have already polluted our environment. The pollution must be STOPPED immediately.”

Lynas’ hazards are cancer-causing radioactive thorium and uranium; and other toxic elements from heavy metals, arsenic and chemicals found in the water-leached purification stream of its wastes that should have been isolated from the environment.

Radioactive waste increases the background radiation. More seriously, the fine particulates of Lynas’ waste may find their way into the lungs and organs of people who must breathe, drink, and eat. Contaminated groundwater moves into streams and rivers to pollute the aquatic ecosystem. The flood-prone low-lying Balok peat mangrove is never the right place for Lynas’ toxic waste dump.

Dr Yu Siew Hong, a local GP from Kuantan warns, “We cannot afford to wait until local people begin showing symptoms of cancer and other chronic illnesses linked to Lynas’ hazards. Lynas has no place in Malaysia.”

The Ministerial decision requiring Lynas to remove its toxic radioactive waste from Malaysia is not a new condition. It is an enforcement of Lynas’ licence condition to hold Lynas to task over its 2012 undertaking for getting the operating licence.

“A couple of Cabinet Ministers have appeared not to have learnt from the expensive bitter lessons from Lynas in Pahang and the toxic fume disaster in Johor. Today, we are here also to remind them that Rakyat will not tolerate Ministers who do not act to protect our environment and wellbeing of the community.” Mr Tan explains.

Samples of ‘toxic’ waste will be handed out to Entrepreneur Development Minister Redzuan Yusof who challenged the Ministerial decision on Lynas earlier; and Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar who lifted the bauxite mining ban in Pahang.

“Our environment is our precious national asset which we must protect for now and for many generations to come.” Concludes Dr Yu

For further comments, please contact: Mr Tan Bun Teet : +60 179 730 576

or Dr Yu Siew Hong : +60 12-900 7785