“After 10 years of safe operation in Malaysia we are disappointed that the conditions that were applied to our 2020 operating licence remain,” Chief Executive Amanda Lacaze said in the statement…
“We will now proceed with administrative and legal appeals to ensure that Lynas is treated fairly and equitably as a Foreign Direct Investor and a significant employer and contributor to the Malaysian economy.”
Lynas had applied to Malaysia’s regulator for the conditions to be removed because they “represent a significant variation from the conditions under which… Lynas made the initial decision to invest in Malaysia,” it said.
Today Lynas has duly submitted its threatened appeal against the decision of the Malaysian government to stand by the terms of its agreement with the company back in 2019, which gave Lynas ample time to organise alternative arrangements for its radioactive waste products by mid-2023.
The people of Kuantan want the ‘low-level’ waste out of their locality every bit as much as the people of Australia from whence the material came. Malaysian’s, understandably, feel they have become a dumping ground because their previous high authorities seemed willing to risk safety in return for fast bucks into certain back pockets.
However, it seems Lynas thought they could somehow by-pass the conditions of their own agreement and carry on processing and dumping waste that would require a secure storage facility for 10,000 years were they to place it back in Australia. Such a facility is in the process of being constructed but is not yet ready the company says.
The coup which over-turned the PH government that had negotiated Lynas’s commitment might have had something to do with the company’s optimism in this respect. It effectively returned the sort of government that had allowed their operations in the first place.
Given their first chance however, the electorate have again voted out corruption.
Lynas has made it loudly clear that it has the full backing of the Australian government over this appeal. Ministers for Mr Albanese have spoken out to confirm they are continuing the previous Liberal administration’s whole hearted support for this strategic producer of rare metal products.
After all Lynas, an Australian Stockmarket listed company, has already benefited from numerous bailouts and soft loans from Australia and Japan (their major customer in the electronics industry) despite the highly controversial background of this company’s leading players.
So, it seems that Lynas hopes that bravado, diplomatic bullying and continuing to ‘do what it takes’ will force a Malaysian climbdown as the matter reaches the scrutiny of the appeal process.
Central to that scrutiny, inevitably, is likely to be the status of the so-called Multi-Category Industrial Scheduled Waste Disposal Site (MCISWDS) which Lynas agreed to commission to be built to assist in disposing of its waste (presently stored in heaps in the open air around their plant.
After a number of false starts curtailed by public protests (there were plans to place it lucratively in a forest reserve that would first have been logged and then in a peatland area) this MCISWDS is said three years later to be only 30% completed and therefore useless.
However, it is the embarrassing nature of this contract that Lynas perhaps thinks may pause the Malaysian government into extending its licence to pollute. In short, without tendering the highly specialised role, Lynas paid $100 million to an effective shell company owned by the regent of the state of Pahang (where the site is located) and a local UMNO business crony to carry out this waste disposal commitment, yet to be performed.
The regent is of course not only the current paid head of state of Pahang but also the son of the King of Malaysia.
Yes, that is pretty embarrassing for the Malaysians. However, it ought also to be every bit as embarrassing for the company itself and for the Australian government who has so far apparently failed to initiate appropriate investigations under their own country’s foreign bribery laws.
Meanwhile, as Lynas attempts in its press releases to patronise Malaysia about the great benefits its ‘inward foreign investment’ into the country the new Science Minister, Chang Lih Kang, has reminded radio listeners that when UMNO players first brought the company into Pahang in 2012 a handy 11 year tax exemption was negotiated for the company…. meaning that so far Lynas has not paid a bean at all to the Malaysian public purse!