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Let's work with rare earth metals

The date of: 2018-12-19
viewed: 1

Source:New Straits Times Online

DEAR Minister Yeo Bee Yin, I read your reply to Lynas employees and can’t say I am not dismayed.

I write this as one of the voices in support of Lynas as your government, with specific respect to your ministry, seems unwilling to budge on any issue with regards to heavy metal processing and radiation-related activities.

Minister, I refer you to the often repeated clarifications Lynas has done on the topic of waste management.

In it, the company has clearly stated their commitment to undertake recycling of their wastes to take advantage of the rich concentrations of highly valuable minerals present in them.

For this, Lynas has invested a good amount of its annual profits to undertake detailed research and development. In my opinion, as the energy, science, technology, environment and climate change minister, you should be supportive of this and even partner with Lynas to speed up its efforts, while training Malaysians on the very same matter.

As you would be rightly aware, the rare earth metals processed by Lynas are important to many technologies, especially those that produce green energy. How can you, dear minister, antagonise a company that is producing the very solar panels and wind turbines you have championed?

But your point was waste management. Lynas has, for years, stated its commitment to recycle the waste, failing which it will identify and build permanent disposal sites for the wastes, failing which it will extract all wastes from Malaysia.

Another matter I would like to discuss lies in your own ministry’s website. The recommendations of the Executive Committee of the Operational Assessment for Lynas (LAMP) say nothing about the immediate removal of wastes from Malaysia.

Granted, there are recommendations to remove wastes from Malaysia if sites of permanent disposal cannot be located or approved.

On environmental considerations, an Environmental Impact Assessment and a Radiological Impact Assessment are recommended to make sure LAMP procedures are in line with what is safe.

Moreover, on the release of a greater concentration of heavy metals into water streams, the report recommends research into where this breach of regulation comes from.

Again, there is no immediate need to remove these wastes.

You have mentioned in your reply, dear minister, that the Lynas management is trying to stage a drama, that the use of paid advertorials and press conferences are to paint the ministry in a bad light.

In a situation where the current government is made of those who are against its business, in an era where people do not understand the company’s operations and are constantly attacking it unfairly, what is Lynas to do?

It just so happens that Lynas has the means to get its side of the story out and through whatever means possible.

I wonder what your views will be on the many coal-fired power plants in Malaysia. I remember our prime minister saying we should explore the use of coal from Sabah for energy rather than nuclear power.

May I suggest that you stop antagonising Lynas and work with it to better its process, if needed.

It is not rare-earth metals that are our enemy, it is coal and other fossil fuels.

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