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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        23  April 2011

Malaysian rare earth plant faces scrutiny

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An independent panel of international experts will be appointed to review the safety of the rare earth plant project in Pahang, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

The company, Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd, also would not be given a pre-operating licence to import raw materials from Australia until the review panel completes its review on the health, safety and environmental aspects of the processing plant, he added.

“A review will be undertaken to ensure that construction of the facility at the site fully complies with international safety standards,” he said at a press conference here yesterday. Mustapa said much concern had been expressed in recent times relating to the safety of the Lynas project, adding that the Government would never compromise public interest when handling the issue.

“It is important to engage with the public for education as public understanding is crucial in this whole exercise. The Federal Government, state government and licensing boards are working closely in the exercise,” he said.

He said members of the panel would be appointed as soon as possible and expected the review to be completed in a month.

The experts, he added, would be from various disciplines such as from the radiation and safety fields.

Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) director-general Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan said the board was working with the International Atomic Energy Agency to select the experts.

“We are thinking about five to seven people in the panel and the requirement is that they are international, they are the experts and are independent. We are limited by that,” he said, adding that the funding for the review would be from various sources.

Mustapa said Lynas was granted a manufacturing licence in January 2008 to produce “rare earth oxides and carbonates” at Gebeng Industrial Estate in Kuantan.

The licence was granted subject to a number of conditions, including compliance with the provisions of the Atomic Energy Licensing Act 1984 and provisions of the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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