The first rare earths products have been produced at Lynas Corporation’s Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) just six weeks after the facility was commissioned. The cracking and leaching rare earth extraction units at the plant were commissioned on January 7, and the recovery rates continue to be in excess of 90% of the contained rare earth oxides (REO).
Lynas has been working through early stage production issues, focusing on increasing throughput and optimizing use of equipment. “These issues have not materially impacted on the overall production ramp-up schedule. The company’s target for the phase 1 nameplate production capacity of 11,000 tonnes per annum REO remains on track for Q2 2013,” says Lynas’ chief operating officer Eric Noyrez.
This positive progress for the company comes as a Malaysian court has dismissed a challenge by the Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL) group to seek a judicial review of the Atomic Energy Licensing Board’s granting of a temporary operating licence for the LAMP in September last year.
“This decision by Kuantan High Court means there remains no injunction or stay preventing Lynas from continuing to carry out operations at our Malaysian plant,” says Eric Noyrez. It is the second application denied by the Court, after an earlier appeal was dismissed in November 2012.
Community claims about the newly-built rare earths processing plant near Kuantan in Pahang were the cause of several delays to the project’s development. The Malaysian parliamentary committee set up to conduct public discussion about the Lynas plant concluded the company had complied with Malaysian standards and laws, which are in line with international principles.
This review echoed the findings of an earlier investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2011 which found the project was fully compliant with international standards.
The AELB will continue to monitor the plant’s operations and adherence to safety standards. The company’s compliance will result in the temporary operating licence being transferred to a permanent one within the next two years.