Video: Lee Rhiannon — Lynas rare earths refinery in Malaysia 'should not go ahead'

November 30, 2011
Video: Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon: Lynas rare earths refinery in Malaysia 'should not go ahead'. peterboyle53/YouTube.

Green Left Weekly's Peter Boyle spoke to Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon outside Lynas Corporation's annual general meeting on November 30 about Lynas's plan to build a rare earths refinery in Malaysia.


I didn't have to watch all of this video. Lee is basically repeating the opinions of the Malaysian Protest groups without adding any value. Rare Earths are a green technology. A reasonable person would have thought the Greens would recognise this rather than blindly follow the opinions of the first activist group that comes along. What she says refutes the assesments done by the Australian regulatory bodies on the classification of the product (NOT RADIOACTIVE) safe to transport. And also the world regulatory bodies IAEA- plant is safe and not radioactive. She is providing issues without solutions. I.E> IF she thinks the logical place to store the processing waste is in Australia - then she should lobby to reverse the decision not to accept the return of processing waste from the plant in Australia. But No, all she is suggesting is that the waste should not be be stored in Malaysia and in effect, the factory can not be allowed be proceed. She also does not know that the low level waste is planned to be further processed into materials for other industrial purpose or raw material for artificial reef/coral. Waste water from processing has been projected to be at the level acceptable to be drinking water. There are so many things she does not know- I don't know why she is speaking on the topic. She is one of the reasons there is so much misinformation out there.
The older I get the less I understand you guys . I still understand the Dead Kennedys and Red Gum but not you guys.
Typical reactionary views of Rhiannon. Completely at odds with the facts. I'd suggest that in order to avoid appearing as a bitter twisted radical, she actually does some homework on rare earths, and in particular the fact that (a) the ore coming from Mt Weld to be exported to Malaysia is NOT radioactive enough even to warrant any OH&S concerns, and (b) the plant in Malaysia is state of the art - the amount of radioactivity in the waste will be less than the background radiation that we all get from everywhere - even the ground we stand on. Not to mention that she would no doubt use a mobile phone, computer, etc - all made from rare earths. And she would like to see "green" cars such as hybrids - all needing rare earths. And power from windmills - needing half a tonne of rare earths for each wind turbine. Her joining the Anti-Lynas brigade was based on her self-confessed half an hour of looking at information provided by them. Ridiculous...!
As a Green voter and a Lynas shareholder, I would appreciate if Senator Lee Rhiannon took the time to inform herself about the science behind the refinery in Malaysia.
… and obviously a One Nation voter. (Or to put it another way, someone who posts anonymously & makes an argument based on who they are is an idiot).
If you are really going to take a position on Thorium 233, it would help to read up on it - Wikipedia is an adequate place to start. Firstly, physical contact with Thorium is not enough to cause cancer. It has to at least be airborne and inhaled. It is not the great toxic hazard that Plutonium or Cesium is. Second, Thorium offers a very appealing alternative to Uranium for nuclear power as it is both more abundant and produces substantially less nuclear wastes. And, it significantly limits the proliferation of nuclear weapons material. Admittedly, we still have a global nuclear waste problem as it seems that reactor sites have become the final destination of nuclear waster regardless of whether that was intended or not. India and China have come on board with plans to build Thorium reactors as a significant portion of their respective nuclear energy programs and India is leading the way. You may be totally against nuclear energy in any form, but it looks as though Lynas's Thorium is a manageable by-product and may even be destined eventually for reactor fuel in India or China. BTW, I don't see how NOT to post anonymously. So what is that all about?
I work in the renewable energy industry. Half a tonne of rare earths for a wind turbine is a misleading figure. Most existing turbines, with gearboxes, use a fairly small quantity (of neodymium, I think). Some new turbines with direct-drive systems (no gearbox) use much more rare earths; I've heard (unconfirmed) that Chinese manufacturer Goldwind may use up to a ton for their direct drive systems. However these are not a common make in Australia.
Seems the Greens in Australia have a low-grade intellectual capacity. Obviously Senator Lee Rhiannon doesn't care about the facts, so what's the point?
This multimillion dollar plant is almost complete. Why are people saying "don't build it", or, "build it in Australia"? People, really...... It's a done deal. If it were to stand idle, it would be the largest single collosal government failure that i can recall. For Maylaysia to say it can be built, then say, oh... i guess we didn't do our DD on the matter, would be a red flag to all other companies looking for a place to develope business. It's true, the radioactivity is so minimal, and Lynas has vowed to take all steps necessary to comply not only with the IAEA, but the Maylaysian AELB, so what's all the fuss?
The people of Malaysia had a very bad experience 25 years ago with Mitsubishi Co. which had a chemical plant not far from the Lynas plant. There were severe spills from that old plant built without any safeguards into the water table and the ocean. Clean up was expensive. I believe they are being extra cautious this time around. Lynas Co. is being very cautious too and practices the most advanced safety methods unlike others. Lets not forget that the rare earth products the Lynas plant produces go into the production of all of the green alternative energy machines: into the magnets of wind energy turbines, the batteries of electric vehicles, solar panels, low energy light bulbs, etc. Lynas provides for all the green companies. Fear is the first counsel to survival and people have their right to fear but should not let ignorance or disinformation guide them. Speaking of the environment without the knowledge of chemistry is disinformation.
Thorium a manageable by product? You gotta be kidding me. Lynas build the LAMP (Lynas Advanced Materials Plant) without even a permanent waste management plan in place. Do you think the Australian EPA will allow that? And yes thorium has to be ingested to pose a real threat. And getting airborne is not the only pathway. It can also contaminate the underground water, or wash out to the sea. When it gets into the foodchain, it accumulates. Considering the ore will be crushed to a fine dust during the refining process, both scenarios are likely to happen in LAMP. First of all, the underground water is just beneath the surface, as the land LAMP sits on is a reclaimed swamp land. 2ndly, Gebeng gets huge amounts of rain annually. Last week, Kuantan town was flooded. The amount of rain is more than 10x what Mt Welt gets. Whether Thorium is a alternate fuel to Uranium is not relevant to this debate. The debate is how do you manage 300,000 tonnes of radioactive waste generated annually. Sadly, Lynas treats it very carelessly. JinHou
The fact of the matter is the way Lynas has built its rare earth plant in Malaysia would NOT be approved nor legal in Australia. It is situated in a mangrove swamp area near a river which is an important mangrove area for Malaysia and only 4km from the South China Sea Worse, Lynas will be discharging its waste water into this river that drains into the South China Sea. Thousands of people depend on the seafood catches of this sea for their livelihoods; children play and bathe at the mouth of the river; coastal and marine tourism are getting more popular nearby. The Lynas project is a direct threat to all things good. Why should we expect the Malaysians to accept such a high impact project which would have been deeemed illegal in Australia?
It is definitely a big RED FLAG for any and all investors because the current Government of Malaysia do not know how to do due diligence, do not carry out public consultation, do not have regulatory experience (they have only got IAEA involved after public outcry) and do not care for its own people. What is termed investment is 12 years tax break and possibly 350 jobs that not many Malaysians want. This is not investment...merely exploitation of lax regulations and a corrupt regime! Malaysians do not want the low radioactive and "safe" waste left in the country. Bring it back to Australia for long term decay storage! Don't leave shit in another's backyard!
Wrong again. Anythying above 1 Bq/g is radioactive. It is the same for Australian and Malaysian regulations. Lynas got away with the "non-radioactive" classification due to a regulatory loophole in Australia's transport regulation. This was exposed by the National Toxic Network on 28 Nov 2011. "The ‘tailings’ or waste material from the processing of rare earth ores at Mt Weld into a concentrate, contains 500ppm ThO2 (Thorium Oxide) and 30ppm U3O8 (Uranium Oxide). The calculated radiation specific activity from this combination is 1.80 Bq/g for the Thorium and 0.32 Bq/g for the Uranium which totals 2.12 Bq/g. This is more than twice the threshold radioactivity level set by the Department of Mining and Petroleum for classification as radioactive tailings (‘radioactive’ classification is in excess of 1.0 Bq/g). This regulatory criterion occurs under the Western Australian Mines Safety and Inspection Regulations 1995." "Lynas Corporation have relied on an exemption loophole in the Western Australian transport regulations to allow their concentrate to be shipped from Mt Weld to Fremantle Port (nearly 1000km) without it being classified as radioactive material. The loophole allows the concentrate to be transported without Dangerous Goods classification or ‘radioactive material’ classification due to an exemption clause in the Radiation Safety (Transport of Radioactive Substances) Regulations, WA, 2002 which allows up to 10 Bq/g of specific radioactivity if the product is not destined for production to extract the radioactive elements (uranium and thorium) or if the material is not subject to chemical processing. " Radioactive waste as artificial reef? You gotta be kidding me. I don't think the Australian EPA will even allow that. BTW, according to British standards, Lynas waste is classified as Low Level Waste (LLW) requiring: "robust isolation and containment for periods of up to a few hundred years and is suitable for disposal in engineered near surface facilities" JinHou
a) According to Malaysian and Australian regulation, anything above 1 Bq/g IS radioactive. b) Are you kidding me? The WLP will have a radioactivity level of 6 Bq/g. That'w way higher than background radiation, typically much lower than 1 Bq/g. Do your homework before posting. JinHou
Are you kidding me? Have you compared how it was originally proposed to be done in Australia compared to how it is being done now in Malaysia? There is not even a permanent waste management plan and a plant decomissioning plan for the plant in Malaysia. Sounds more like sheer carelessness to me... JinHou
Those who posted here with no name are either a bunch of greedy small time investors of Lynas or hire guns of Lynas doing its dirty PR job for a few bobs. You guys are a disgrace to Australia!!! SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! Lee
a) According to Malaysian and Australian regulation, anything above 1 Bq/g IS radioactive. b) Are you kidding me? The WLP will have a radioactivity level of 6 Bq/g. That'w way higher than background radiation, typically much lower than 1 Bq/g. Do your homework before posting. JinHou
When the protest for Lynas started to grow the plant was merely only in building.And when the IAEA came the plant was only completed 40% . i won't blame Lynas alone on this.It just that the Malaysia government do not listen to their people and has been practicising the government know best and keep on building the plant until now it is almost 90% completed then to say it is already built so why the fuss is not appropriate. The cry for the plant to be build in Australia has been started even when they are starting to build the plant. Talking about Radioactivity is minimal, How low is the radioactivity is considered safe ? I saw IAEA report saying that the radioactivity is minimal but never say that it is safe.( Of course without any protection that is. ) The question now is Lynas has claim that their plant radiation are lower than those background radiation that we absorb not to mentioned additional radiation we take daily like smoking cigarettes, taking a flight,medical x ray etc.Then Why their plant still need radiation protection ?If those so called radiation is so low in Lynas plant and Ore also need protection I guess the whole world population also need protection.Are their radiation is minimal as what Lynas claim it is ?
When we have a politician like Lee who cares we have hopes.
If only Australians know how things were done in getting the plant up they will be appalled. Many Malaysians did not have any inkling of this project until it was reported in mid 2011 in the New York Times about the poor construction practices. The IAEA were only brought in after much public uproar, even then they only looked very specifically at the process of the plant, not the bigger picture. How can one term it an investment if it is given a 12 years tax break, except possibly 350 jobs that Malaysians hardly want.Then, there is the clean up cost of a previous rare earth project on the west coast in Bukit Merah is still ongoing today decades after shut down - who is picking up the tab for this one? This is not investment...merely exploitation of lax regulations and a corrupt regime! Malaysians do not want the low radioactive and "safe" waste left in the country. Bring it back to Australia for long term storage if it is term "safe"! Don't leave shit in another's backyard!
If this is the fact that Lynas claim in which their radiation is almost to zero ( O.47msv ) then why need to have radition protection ? It is far lower than those we absorb everyday. Is Lynas telling the truth ?
Apparently the new idea on waste disposal here in Kuantan is to mix the waste with other stuff like water and earth so the new waste would have a very low concentration of radioactive and other hazardous waste. This can than be touted as harmless waste and disposed off by dumping it anywhere. And we are still wondering how shoddy Lynas and LAMP really is.
So what if the Malaysian government cancelled the project? This project was approved furtively back in 2008, with no public consultation whatsoever. The PEIA was approved within 2-3 weeks of submission. The original RIA is never disclosed. Good for the people of Malaysia if the government cancels this project. That will teach unscrupulous investors not to backstab the local population in their mindless pursuit of profit. It will teach investors not to engage in corrupt practices.
With a attractive catch call like green technology many are jumping into the bandwagon for commercial reasons without half a thought about the process of getting the product out. A true green tech can only be green from cradle to grave! But the argument here is not about stopping production of rare earth at all. By all means process it where it can be rigorously regulated and monitored, like in Australia itself. Ashton, which Lynas took over, had prior approval to process the material just off Northam, chooses to do so in Malaysia purely for bottom line consideration due to the lax requirements afforded by that corrupt regime.
The Lynas Advanced Materials Plant in Malaysia is NOT fit for operation. IT has failed most of the tests so far. There is no hope for it to begin operation LET ALONE an early production. The plant is dangerous at it is. Investors' funds are being abused and wasted on a project that is unlikely to come to fruition. Divest now before your share plummet once the truth about the plant becomes public!!!
Lying has been the name of the game for Lynas Corp. If only the shareholders learn the truth of the project and the kind of corporation Lynas is, they will bail in droves....!
The Lynas Forum at top stock will ban anyone from the forum if they found that you have negative point about Lynas even though you have facts and telling some truth about Lynas Plant in Malaysia.Worst still they cannot even rebut the your most simplest comment and so paranoid that this will affect their investors, they will ban you without any warning.
I posted the above comment and I am a different Lee from Lee Rhianon although I have known Lee for many years. She is one of the most principled and committed human being I have ever met. Integrity and humanity sums her up. It is despicable to see Aussies who posted here so selfish and unscrupulous - seeing the Lynas project ONLY in terms of its share value and not the health and well being or the life of another human being or community!!! Lee
Why should Lynas be so paranoid unless it has something to hide! Simon
Check this out...
Rare earth processing is safe? Learn from this terrible situation: And Lynas said it is using matured Chinese technology from China... how matured is this to smply repeat the horrible mistake of China??? The rare earth plant in Malaysia already had many defects BEFORE it's operational. Lynas continues to lie to its investors and sharehodlers, spending millions in PR spin to try to distort the truth.... how long can Lynas hide from the truth? Divest now if you have Lynas shares...! Don't say that you have not been told next time!!!
Ask yourself, will you agree to Lynas building it's plant in your neighbourhood???If you don't then why in our neighbourhood???It is so close to one of the capital city in Malaysia. Check your google map if you do not know!! Malaysia's government are not known to be corrupt free neither are we experienced in these "rare earth" business, so why not build the plant where the experts in this field are?? Why transport the rare earth all the way from Australia??Why not process it in Australia if it is totally harmless??Why all the expensive transport cost??Why why why??????Can someone answer this questions?Until then, I will continue to try and STOP LYNAS in MALAYSIA. Swee Keng, A Malaysian who do not trust Lynas nor the Malaysian government in ensuring the safety of the plant's operation and waste management.
The power saving light bulbs, the computer screen you are looking at now, all the computer data world wide,electric cars, smart phones and much more are TOTALLY reliant on rare earths and so is YOUR well being. The modern world can not function with out them. Thorium is naturally occurring in soils and rocks around the world, your vegetables are grown in soil that contains thorium, its unavoidable. Many parts of the world are built in places that can have up to 80 ppm of thorium in the ground with no harm to the residents. It is a NATURAL part of the world we live in, we can't create thorium and we can destroy it; it an element so diluting it to naturally occurring levels would very sensible. The Lynas waste is just dirt. If you flew over to Malaysia from Australia you would be exposed to far more radiation during the flight that you would if you sat on the pile of Lynas waste for a year, so why aren't you protesting about commercial air travel? You wouldn't want to be seen as a hypocrite, would you? Before you all condemn our children's future to a very bleak and black carbon dependent future of misery as fossil are rapidly depleted and sky rocket in price causing massive world poverty YOU must solve the worlds energy problems, get a degree in science or get job with a company that is creating energy saving devices DO something that will improve the future instead of complaining about things you are completely ignorant about for crass political gain . Thorium in these incredibly small quantities are not going to kill anyone but poverty ignorance and YOUR arrogance has the potential to kill millions in the future. DON'T Google stuff until you find somone that agrees with your our ignorance, learn some physics or chemistry, talk to organisation who have the collective wisdom of many life times of studying the natural world in the areas that concern you; make a REAL difference. Don't send us back to dark ages when we were burning witches and neglecting our children's future because irrational fears caused by a few people who desired notoriety and power. We live in the age of reason, be reasonable.
It's dishonest to pretend that opponents of the Lynas project are against the use of rare earths, or our children having a future, or that they like to kick small kittens. It's not about whether we use rare earths (and you exaggerate the need for them, stupidly, as though they are up there with antibiotics and electricity as something we can't possibly, ever, do without). The real question is, does Lynas build a large probably quite polluting facility in a poor country with a seriously undemocratic government and poor environmental and labour record? That is opposed by the community who will host it, who complain that it has not provided proper environmental planning? Or should they build it in Australia, reduce the energy and cost of their shipping, and pay good wages to unionised workers to do the job for them? Should big first-world companies have the right to trample on poor third world communities whenever they feel it's profitable? Now there is something that has destroyed the lives of many children. So, go and have a thorium bath. And learn to use paragraph breaks. While Green Left continues to defend human rights and environmentally sustainable development.
15-20,000 people at demo in Malaysia against the Lynas refinery. See:
Wow, I have never read so many distorted facts... I voted Green for the last 6 elections but am amazed at how loony this has become. The Malaysian LAMP is going to be the most modern and safe plant in the world. Chinese LAMPs are terribly dangerous and fit the hype cited here which is the whole point of creating a new safer plant. Where do you think the Rare Earths required to produce the wind/water turbines, the solar panels, and other technologies that will drive this Green Revolution/Evolution that us Greens strive towards ? Will they magically fall out of the sky ? Perhaps they will continue to arrive from Chinese dirty/old and unsafe PLANT's (does that suite the Greens agenda to poison them instead ?) For goodness sake, get off your high horse and get real. We need modern LAMPs that are safe, and Malaysia is the best chance we have to finally be green and safe. Until the Greens get your head out of pollyanna world, I will move my vote elsewhere and encourage all my Green friends to do the same. We need real world Green's not pretend ones who use electronic devices and dream of green power but don't want to make modern, safe plants to get the materials required... instead being keen to shoot them down with false and hyped up claims.
Yes, clean as a whistle mate! More racist rubbish from ignorant westerner. Dump the waste in brown people's communities, no worries. "Hidden out of sight behind smoke-shrouded factory complexes in the city of Baotou, and patrolled by platoons of security guards, lies a five-mile wide ‘tailing’ lake. It has killed farmland for miles around, made thousands of people ill and put one of China’s key waterways in jeopardy. This vast, hissing cauldron of chemicals is the dumping ground for seven million tons a year of mined rare earth after it has been doused in acid and chemicals and processed through red-hot furnaces to extract its components." Oh, you forgot to mention this? I thought it was just "dirt"? Do your own research genius. Oh and forgive my arrogance, but I thought that stopping burning fossil fuels was what our future relied ENTIRELY upon. How foolish of me! When really it's flouro lights that will stop climate change! Never mind massive coal expansion, CSG, shale gas and oil, etc etc etc etc etc. Damn those selfish malaysians.
Oh and of course the companies have only our best interests at heart. Hell, clearly they're just trying to save the world! Nothing to do with maximising profits.
Last year I did this interview with Malaysian environmentalist and scientist Dr T Jayabalan, who works with the National Poisons Centre, Universiti Sains Malaysia:

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