Australian news, and some related international items

It’s not clear what will be done about Lynas’ radioactive wastes in Malaysia, as Lynas plans rare earths processing also in Texas

Lynas’ US plans no threat to Wesfarmers interest, Malaysian problems,  By Colin Kruger – May 20, 2019 Lynas Corp’s plans to establish processing operations in the US are not expected to pose a threat to Wesfarmers’ interest in the rare earths group, but it won’t offer a Plan B for its Malaysian problems either.Lynas told the ASX on Monday it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with one of its US customers, Blue Line Corp, for a joint venture to separate medium and heavy rare earths elements in Texas. Lynas said it would be the majority owner of the venture…….

The company declined to comment further but Ms Lacaze will front investors on Tuesday and is expected to clarify plans to invest in processing infrastructure in Western Australia where it mines the rare earths at Mt Weld.

This will offset the sovereign risk of its billion-dollar Malaysian operations, which could be forced to close in September if Lynas does not remove more than 450,000 tonnes of low level radioactive waste.

The company had been in talks with Wesfarmers about a processing joint venture in WA last year which led to a controversial $1.5 billion bid by the conglomerate in March.

Wesfarmers declined to comment on the latest news from Lynas but indicated it would not have an impact on the company’s continued interest in the rare earths group.

The term rare earths refers to a group of 17 elements crucial to the manufacture of many hi-tech products like mobile phones, electric cars and wind turbines. These elements are not actually that rare in nature but the extraction process is environmentally hazardous.

The Texan venture will provide a value-added service to its current processing in Malaysia.

The heavy rare earths that will be the focus of the separation process includes Dysprosium and Terbium which fetch about $US230 per kilo and $US500 per kilo respectively.

But volumes will be low, said an industry observer who is not authorised to speak to the media.

It’s a value-added process that is not going to move earnings that materially,” he said.

Lynas is the only significant producer of rare earths outside of China which has a potential choke hold on this crucial element of the market, which is a big problem for the US and Japan.

The uniqueness of its position has been highlighted amid the continuing regulatory issues in Malaysia.

It reached a crisis point in December last year when a Malaysian government ministry issued two new preconditions for the renewal of the Lynas licence to operate including the permanent removal of all radioactive residue from Malaysia.

In March, Dr Mahathir raised hopes that his government might find a solution to Lynas’ inability to export the contentious waste when he indicated the company could continue to operate if it decontaminated its ore of radioactive elements before shipping it to Malaysia.

Lynas is still awaiting clarification from the Malaysian government.   Lynas shares fell 1.25 per cent to $1.98.



May 23, 2019 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths

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