20/06/2019 - 15:55

Lynas to select a WA processing site soon

20/06/2019 - 15:55

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Lynas Corporation chief executive Amanda Lacaze says the company is around two months away from deciding on a Western Australian site to expand its processing operations.

Amanda Lacaze says there's an exciting opportunity in WA for downstream rare earths processing.

Lynas Corporation chief executive Amanda Lacaze says the company is around two months away from deciding on a Western Australian site to expand its processing operations.

At a WA Mining Club luncheon today, Mines Minister Bill Johnston implied Lynas had not yet submitted an application to the state government.

Ms Lacaze, who was also a panellist at the luncheon, told reporters at a press conference following the luncheon that the company had not yet submitted an application to the WA government but it was keen to do so.

“The fact that there has not been application submitted is not because there’s no intent, it’s because you don’t just put in an application that’s two lines which says ‘I’d like to do this’,” she said.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into getting the application ready to go.

“It’s our intention to finalise the site within the next couple of months, maybe next quarter.”

Last month, Lynas announced plans to spend $500 million by 2025 to boost production, and this included expanding its processing operations to WA.

The company indicated it would invest in a concentrator upgrade at its Mt Weld mine near Laverton.

It said would conduct studies to determine whether to develop its WA upstream processing expansion at Mt Weld or in Kalgoorlie, which it said has better access to raw materials and energy.

Lynas’s regulatory approvals in Malaysia are currently in limbo, as in April Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Lynas must remove years of accumulated radioactive waste at the plant and clean raw materials before entering the country, if it was to have its licence renewed.

Its approvals are up for renewal by the Malaysian government on September 2.

Ms Lacaze today said discussions with the Malaysian government were ongoing but would not provide specific details.

Mr Johnston highlighted Lynas’ situation when discussing WA’s approvals process.

“You come to WA, you get your approval done, your project runs …we don’t get in the way of doing business,” he said.

“It’s been eight years and Lynas still does not have final approval (in Malaysia), think about that.”

In response, Ms Lacaze said Mr Johnston’s statement was “not quite right”.

When discussing the broader rare earths sector, Ms Lacaze said there was an exciting opportunity in Western Australia for downstream processing, amid trade tensions between China and the US.

“We have a terrific opportunity, because the West…has been on the heroin drip of cheap components and products for a very long time,” she said.

“This has exposed us, our manufacturing and supply chains are exposed.”

Lynas is the only major rare earths producer outside of China, although other companies, such as Northern Minerals, are hoping to join it.

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