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Australia not taking back rare earth waste: high commissioner

  • Media Chinese International Limited Executive Director/Group Chief Executive Officer Francis Tiong (R) presenting a freshly printed copy of Sin Chew Daily to Australian High Commissioner Andrew Goledzinowski during the latter's visit to the printing plant. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

PETALING JAYA, May 23 (Sin Chew Daily) – Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Mr Andrew Goledzinowski asserted that his government would not allow the waste from Lynas plant in Malaysia to be sent back to Australia.

Lynas Corporation evaluation committee has earlier proposed to commercialize the waste or to store it in Malaysia permanently

Goledzinowski said in an exclusive interview during his recent visit to Sin Chew Daily that the Australian government's approval had to be sought before Lynas could send back the waste to the country. He nevertheless said no one would do that.

“We are exporting millions of tons of coal to China every day but we will not take back the burned coal ash from them.

“Malaysia is a rubber exporting country but no Australian will tell Malaysia to take back hundreds of tons of used tyres we have every year.

“No one will do that!”

Goledzinowski said Lynas chief executive officer Amanda Lacaze had said the separation facility to be set up in the United States would ensure that raw material sent to Malaysia would be non-radioactive.

Goledzinowski would meet Minister of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Yeo Bee Yin, Lynas representative and Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia Makio Miyagawa today over the Lynas issue before making a final decision.

“I hope minister Yeo Bee Yin will carry the final decision of the cabinet.”

'Oil refinery waste more radioactive'

“Do you know what is the most radioactive product Australia imports from Malaysia?

"It's oil!

“Yeo Bee Yin knew that. She is a petrochemical expert.

“The waste from petroleum refinery is five to six times more radioactive than rare earth waste, but we still keep it in Australia and not send it back to Malaysia.”

Goledzinowski said the previous BN administration had wanted to turn rare earth waste -- Water Leach Purification (WLP) residue – into agricultural fertilizer. As a matter of fact, he said Malaysia spent plenty of money every year to import similar fertilizers, adding that WLP's radioactivity was 6Bq/g while that of imported fertilizers between 2 and 7Bq/g.

“We already have this thing here. It is now piled up in Kuantan. It won't be practical to import the same thing again!”

The high commissioner also said if we were to make a top ten list of Malaysia's radioactive waste producing factories, Lynas would probably only be at 9th or 10th, not on top.

“All I can say is that there are more political than scientific factors in all this.”

Goledzinowski said the fact that Lynas would set up a separation facility in the United States showed that many countries wanted to venture into the rare earth supply industry.

“Lynas is already here, which is a good thing. This will put Malaysia in high tech supply chain.”

Lynas earlier announced that it would set up a rare earth separation plant in the United States but stressed it wound not exit Malaysia and had faith it would meet the requirement of Prime Minster Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to decontaminate raw material brought into Malaysia.

Lynas is currently the only major rare earth manufacturer outside China. The company recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Texas-based Blue Line Corporation to set up a plant in the US state next year.


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