Justice Mariana Yahya of the High Court in Kuantan will on 8 November 2012 decide whether to grant a stay on Lynas’s temporary operating licence (TOL) to residents from Kuantan.
Lynas will have to wait out another month although all systems are set to start operations at their rare earth refinery in Gebeng, Kuantan.
The interim injunction on the plant’s operations has been extended till then.
The residents are challenging the decision by the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, not to revoke the TOL issued to Lynas.
A stay on the Minister’s and the Atomic Energy Licensing Board’s (AELB) decision to grant the TOL to Lynas is also sought by the residents.
Lynas wanted to intervene in the suit as a respondent but the residents’ lawyer Bastian Vendargon successfully argued that Lynas has the right to be heard but cannot intervene as a party.
Hundreds of anti-Lynas residents showed up at the court complex in support of the residents’ court action.
It has been a long saga for Lynas Corporation of Australia who is hoping to operate the largest rare earth refinery outside mainland China.
Stop Lynas Save Malaysia has been the forerunner in opposing the operations at Gebeng. The ongoing fight to get Lynas out of Malaysian shores has been joined by several NGOs.
Several assurances have been given by the Government that Lynas will not be given the green light to operate in Gebeng unless the stringent measures recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency and other relevant authorities are met.
Hence the granting of the TOL by the Ministry did not go down well with concerned citizens.
It further came as an unwelcome surprise when it was revealed in the court proceedings that Lynas has in fact been granted two other licences.
It was reported that the award of the import licence and the residue storage licence by the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) stunned a group of Kuantan residents and environmentalists who initiated legal proceedings to challenge the authorities and put a permanent end to the Australian giant’s plan to fire up its RM2.5 billion refinery in Gebeng, Pahang.
The expensive and painful pursuit to oust Lynas from Gebeng so far appears to be constantly thwarted by the authorities involved.
Licences are issued without public knowledge and action contrary to assurances given to the public appears to be the norm in the case of approvals for this rare earth refinery.
Director-general of AELB Abdul Aziz Adnan had in the past informed reporters that Lynas may have been given the TOL but they would have to apply for the licences to import the rare earth and the licence to store the residue separately.
It appears that the lawyer appearing for Lynas at the hearing in Kuantan busted this myth by stating that “the matter is academic because all three licences have been issued,” as reported in The Malaysian Insider.
November 8 will be an important date for both the anti-Lynas troops and the pro-Lynas authorities but it will not be the end of the road for either party due to the passion to do right by the residents of Kuantan running high on the one hand and the economics involved in the other.
Photograph by: KS Tan