AUSTRALIA-based producer of separated rare earths Lynas has declared its decision to halt all operations in Malaysia by the end of this year, except for its Mixed Rare Earth Carbonate (MREC) processing.
This announcement outlined in their quarterly report released earlier today, marks a pivotal moment in the company’s strategic evolution.
“We are excited to have now commenced the kiln heating cycle at the new Kalgoorlie Facility. This is the first step in production and will be followed by first production, and then ramp up over the next few months.
“While the trajectory of this ramp-up is inherently unpredictable, this is an exciting milestone.
“In Malaysia, there will be a planned shutdown of all operations, apart from MREC processing, in the December quarter starting from mid-November. MREC processing volumes are expected to be minimal during this period,” the report said.
Key Malaysian personnel involved in cracking and leaching (C&L) operations will be redeployed to Lynas’ new facility in Kalgoorlie, Australia, to assist with its start-up process.
Lynas also stated that they will implement an upgrade to its downstream operations, specifically aimed at increasing neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) production capacity to approximately 10,500 tonnes per annum.
This expansion is deemed crucial in anticipation of potential updates to the company’s licence by the Malaysian government, permitting continued import and processing of lanthanide concentrate from the next year onwards.
“In the event that does not occur, the capacity will still be required as Kalgoorlie ramps up to its nameplate capacity of MREC feedstock to produce approximately 9,000tpa NdPr finished product,” the report said.
Meanwhile earlier this year, the government renewed the operating licence for Lynas’ operating plant in Gebeng, Kuantan for three years, effective March 3. The licence was renewed with the same conditions imposed by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration in 2020.
Moreover, the key conditions include relocating the cracking and leaching facility out of Malaysia before July this year, after which it will no longer be allowed to import lanthanide concentrate into the country.
This extension was granted until the end of 2023 to prevent disruptions in the global rare earth supply chain and to allow Lynas to complete its Kalgoorlie plant. Besides, Lynas is mandated to construct a permanent disposal facility for the existing waste generated since its commencement of operations in 2012.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim recently announced the government’s intention to implement an export ban policy on rare earth raw materials.
This policy is aimed at curbing exploitation and ensuring optimal returns for the country’s resources, as highlighted during his speech while tabling the motion on the 12th Malaysia Plan 2021-2025 Mid-Term Review in the Dewan Rakyat last month. – Oct 20, 2023
Main photo credit: Berita Harian