Australia’s Lynas Corp Ltd announced that three individuals have filed a lawsuit in Malaysia challenging the government’s decision to renew the company’s operating licence last year.

Lynas Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed, 27 other ministers and cabinet members, and the country’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board were among those named as respondents in the lawsuit.

The grounds set out in the lawsuit relate to the processes followed by the government in reaching the controversial August 2019 decision to allow the rare earths producer to continue to operate in the country despite concerns of radioactive waste storage at the Kuantan processing plant.

Dinesh Athinarayanan, who is representing the individuals who filed the lawsuit, said his clients argue that the powers to approve the extension lie solely with the energy minister as stated in the country’s Atomic Energy Licensing Act, and not with the cabinet. “To allow the cabinet to make a decision or delegate powers to cabinet is unlawful, as per the Act,” he told Reuters.

Lynas said in a statement that it has full confidence in the robustness of the Malaysian judicial system and believes that the case will be dismissed. The company also noted how Lynas Malaysia has been the subject of four independent scientific reviews, including two reviews by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a report by the current Pakatan Harapan Government’s independent scientific committee – all of which have found the company to be low risk and compliant with the laws and regulations in effect in Malaysia.

*Article published in the April-June 2020 issue of The Asia Miner