Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Lynas: Introspect Of Why

A CRANKSHAFT reader, Walla, has some valid concerns which he has kindly compiled for the benefit of all readers.

Some preliminary concerns on the project:

(a) where is the environmental impact assessment on the Gebeng refinery, especially with regards the disposal of the waste?

If the Australian government can make public to its citizens two environment impact assessment requirements for the Lynas mining operation where the rare earths are merely to be concentrated for final processing, why can't we have the environmental impact assessment requirement for the final processing phase where toxic waste and harmful byproducts will be deposited?

Ref: and

The government has suggested that the waste be shipped back to Australia. A moment's thought will tell you if Lynas is willing to ship it back to Australia, they would not have set up the plant in Malaysia in the first place.

Furthermore, the very fact the government can make that suggestion says as much it is not confident of defending any environmental impact assessment in its hand.

So we come to the next question:

(b) why did Lynas not set up the last segment of the refining process in its complex in Laverton Western Australia in the first place since that would have reduced their costs of having to pre-concentrate the ore, pack it, transport it by road and rail to their loading port, and ship it all the way across the ocean to Kuantan to be offloaded and transported to Gebeng to be processed whereupon ship back the rare products minus the waste to be sold and exported?

There can only be one answer. Yes, they don't want the waste in Australia. So what cause does Malaysia have to want it as well? Can anyone in the Malaysian Cabinet furnish a reasonable answer?

Which brings me to another matter:

(c) Pahang gets monsoonal floods. Gebeng is in Pahang. The Lynas plant is in Gebeng. The plant is being constructed on flat land open to floods (remember Thailand).

We can see for ourselves how flat and low-lying the site is:

In a bad case scenario, your conclusion then will be that our locals will be having their seafood impregnated with the sodium sulphide reagent used to concentrate the lanthanide ore that has come all the way from Mt Weld of Western Australia. That they will also be losing their hair and teeth at the same time cannot be entirely excluded.

So it remains to take one more step back on this matter:

(d) why all the rush?

Lynas is pushing the project through as quickly as possible. It is finalising its phase two expansion of its extraction plant where output is to be some 22,000 MT/year. In fact, 5,000 MT is ready to be shipped over.

Maybe the answer for the rush is geopolitical. Japan is 97% dependent on China for rare earth elements necessary for its high-tech products.

That was why the Japanese trading house SojiTz Corporation with the full and eager blessing of the Japanese government had pumped into Lynas Corporation USD325 million just in time to shore up the company after it had suffered ten years of financial distress including the collapse of one funding deal after it had acquired the Mt Weld rare earths mine at the height of the global financial crisis.

For that investment, Sojitz Corporation will get marketing rights to at least 8,500 MT of rare earths a year over 10 years and Lynas expects to corner at least 8% of the world's rare earth supply.

Also note that the main processing unit are the rotary kilns in the Gebeng plant. They are supplied by Toyo-Thai.

It therefore seems this Lynas plant in Gebeng has nothing to do with Malaysian interests. After all, the planned headcount is only some 300 locals, and the value-add to our trade figures will be marginal since we won't own the final product. Only Japan and Australia will own the final product. Malaysia will only be the dumping ground, and like Malawi the other country where Lynas has an operation, probably the two M's will be left with the dishwater.

Maybe Lynas just went through the list of countries starting from A down to L, and then when it reached M, Malawi and Malaysia said "yes". The question is - why did everyone else say "no"? If Japan was so eager for the Lynas supply to proceed, why not have the refining on Japanese soil if it has been assured to be safe?

In the end, Japan will get another source of rare earths for its high technology, Australia will gain traction from the US as a new world source of rare earths, Lynas Corporation will see its share price rise in value, its shareholders will disdain their usual lobsters for caviar, and the citizens of Malaysia, especially those who live and work in the vicinity of Lynas Malaysia will get:

Note the photos of the Gebeng plant. It's not high-tech at all. More like, you know, something for Syabas or Alam Flora. Say, radioactive sewage?

The government of this country owes the rakyat of Malaysia a full restitution on the matter.

Together with all the other issues like the NPC, Felda and 1Care, this Lynas issue will sink BN in the forthcoming GE13.


Anonymous said...

Dr CSL can answer all this, as he has all the scientific evidence and proof to justify that..

Anonymous said...

I certainly pray that your last sentence will come true. All malaysians are dead meat sooner or later, only for those in kuantan it's sooner.

Anonymous said...

excellent this
concise and appropriate in context
lynas supporter (read umno) not gonna reply to this as the truth will hurt 'em

syed buadbib

Anonymous said...

Nice "political commentary".
However,you left out and/or distorted many factoids.
Do not forget that the Malaysian
Government enticed Lynas to construct the plant in Malaysia with business encentives.
Rest of World beware...let this political campaign be a lesson...
"Do Not Invest in Malaysia"

Ellese said...

Too speculative. I think the argument by anti lynas proponent that we should object lynas coz australia doesn't want to take back the waste is too shallow a spin.

No country takes back the waste used by the other country especially after its economic use. Even if its non toxic. If its malaysia I expect malaysia to object as well.

Let me explain. WE used huge amount of coal for our power plants. The by product is the ash content which is not environment friendly. We can't simply shipped back the ash content to australia or indonesia. Its non toxic but its a foolish proposition to send it back. Similarly with nuclear power plant. No one sends the uranium waste back to country of origin.

The principle is simple. You use it you be responsible for it lah. You can't use it for your benefit especially economically and then send back after use. Its stupid for australia to accept. This argument is cheapskate spin.

walla said...

anon 00.56

what are the factoids 'left out and/or distorted'?

ellese 07.13

why was the refining not done in Australia in the first place?

That you have obviously chosen to avoid these points makes no contribution to the matter from what you had posted. You want to try again?

Let me add one more objection to the plant. It's also about living in perpetuity with a perception. Let's say it's your home next to the plant. Would you accept a verbal guarantee from flip-floppers today that it is ok when they will be gone after your grandchildren are bequeathed your home to live in?

Let's see how you respond. Don't repeat with deflections or innuendos. It's cheap. It's immature. It's also derelict of any wisdom which would have readily acknowledged in the first place that with the Bukit Merah record of death from a former rare earth processing plant, this country isn't anytime ready or able to make critical professional decision making on an investment with potential high risk health-wise, let alone small change to Treasury in earnings.

walla said...

and ellese, that suggestion to send back the waste to Australia came not from anti-Lynas proponents - but from the mainstream government components, if you would care not to jump the gun with your trigger-happy neuron.

wherever you are going to post, not just here as one has noticed, do try to check facts first. Otherwise people will think you are merely flamebaiting in a manner prejudicial against the interest of the peoples that is the motivation for any such "speculative, political commentaries".

Ellese said...


Sorry. I've had arguments too many a times with anti Lynas proponents including academicians and engineers. Please go to rights2write. None have ever been able to defend the argument. Most at the end ended up with an irrelevant argument like crankshaft why Australia don't accept it or why don't I live in kuantan. The IAEA report is clear. They've proposed many suggestions. This AELB has been reacting and defensive. I think it's not necessary. The plant operation is safe and issues have been spun disregarding truth and facts. If you want, join the debate at rights2write.

walla said...

Thanks, ellese. In your rights2write comment on Lynas, you wrote 'there are huge economic benefits'. What are they?

I ask this question because if i am a profiteering listed company like Lynas, i would be happier for my shareholders if the country where the plant is to be sited gets as little as possible of economic benefits because if it gets more, i will get less from the increased expenditure hitting my bottom-line.

If this is difficult for you, then let's relent and say those benefits are spinoff collateral benefits. Again, what are they?

The commission report looked at internal compliance with external standards. What about potential force majeure threats like floods?

We have to ask questions like this because lives and safety are at stake and if those rare elements spread out in situations not covered by an external set of standards, none of us here may know the effects until we are gone and later generations start showing leukaemic symptoms. Such as happened after 1992 with people living near the Mitsubishi Chemical plant at Bukit Merah.

If a government had miscued on that one, which standard can we refer to that will assuage us that it won't again this time?

And have you been in the government ministries and agencies and looked around? Try Science, JPM, Pahang SEDC. Evaluate the 'professional' quality of the people there, some of whom would have been the ones receiving and evaluating the Lynas proposal. Let me know what your conclusions will be.

Do you know what bugs me about all this? I can't see the 'national benefits' of the project against the mental anguish that the rakyat will be suffering for as long as the half-lives of those rare earth radioactive elements.

And if we agree to this one, what assurance will the rakyat have it won't create a convenient precedent for the government to continue doing so?

Which says as much of the 'national competitiveness' of this country in attracting 'quality' FDI, a criterion set by none other than MITI which have been turning away other FDI's.

Throw a stone in this country and you will hit a contradiction of actions, puncturing all spins.

i stop my comments in this thread, here. Cheers.

Ellese said...

Sorry. I didn't see your reply. Go in the debate between me and Ben g who is an engineer at R2W. He's not pro lynas. But at least consistent make sense and I find reasonable. Most of your points don't hold water because you will see an inconsistent false logic. It doesn't make sense. For example you object to lynas for radioactive exposure but by the same rate of exposure you don't ban commercial flights. Thats the whole problem of your argument. The objection can't consistent leading to ludicrous position. I can't entertain discourse in too many places. Join the debate at R2W to determine the truth.

JinHou said...

These pro-Lynas goons are so retarded. They always use IAEA to legitimize the safety of the plant. Hey not everyone agrees with the IAEA ok. There's a big scientific debate about the unknown risk of ingestion and inhalation. Do you expect Malaysians to concede to that given the dearth of economic benefits?

Nice way you sum it up. Thumbs up.