More than a 1,000 people converged on the Lynas Corporations Advanced Material Plant (LAMP) based in Kuantan, Malaysia today to force the company to shut down. Lynas Corporation, Ltd is an Australian rare earths mining company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange as a S&P/ASX 200.
The besieged company has been in legal battles with an Malaysian court with pending licence to operate due to health, safety, and environmental concerns. Malaysia’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) granted the temporary licence in 2012 for the company to begin operations for an initial two-year period under strict safety requirements.
Local residents have been opposing the operations. On Sunday, 16 people were arrested and two activists were reportedly beaten by police. One remains in an ICU in Kuantan hospital.
Tully McIntyre, a rare earth campaigner, said resistance against the plant will continue until Lynas closes it doors and leaves the country. The LAMP will generate radioactive waste from thorium and acidic waste streams. She said one of the biggest concerns is Lynas does not have a waste management plan.
“This type of action sees global community building against unwanted corporations, ASIC should be ashamed to be endorsing companies that operate with no social license and fall back funds, especially when they are bordering on insolvency. Lynas Corporation should take the opportunity to follow its investors and pull out now,” McIntyre said.
Australian activist remains in detention in Malaysia
During the Sunday demonstration an Australian resident and international mining campaigner, Natalie Lowrey, was also arrested for taking part in what has become known as the “622 shut down Lynas” event along with 15 Malaysian citizens. Lowrey was arrested at 4pm on Sunday.
Sydney-based campaign group, Stop Lynas Inc. said Lowrey has been held without being able to see a lawyer and may face deportation.
Based on a phone call she was allowed once from her cell, she said she was arrested with a housewife, a chef, veterinarian, businessman, a retiree, and 10 others.
“These people are everyday people that have families in Kuantan and are concerned about their future generations. This type of toxic industry does destroy lives, as seen by Asian Rare Earths refinery in Bukit Merah,” she was quoted as saying.
Lowrey added that local people have the right to be concerned about their family’s health and their local environment: “Malaysian lives are just as important as Australians.”
Lowrey was still being held at Kuantan police station in Pahang Tuesday. All 15 other arrestees have been released on bail and are to report to the police station on July 21.
Shutting down Lynas operations is the focus of one of the largest environmental campaigns in Malaysia today.
There are about 700,000 people living within 30km from the LAMP site and it is located near coastal tourist resorts and an environmentally sensitive fishery area.