Understanding the Lynas Rare Earth plant in 13 questions

I’m just a layman, I read the paper I saw the news, but I want to know more…

Q1: What is rare earth (RE)?

Rare earth (RE) is just a metal, as ordinary as other metals like iron, silver and gold. The difference between them is we don’t encounter RE in daily life, e.g. you don’t wear RE bracelets, you don’t build the bridge with RE. It’s precious, valuable and essential for many high-tech industries.

Q2: Who is LYNAS?

LYNAS is the owner of the RE mine and Gebeng plant, incorporated and listed in Australia. LYNAS (M) Sdn. Bhd is wholly owned by LYNAS Inc.

Q3: Where does the RE come from? What is it like?

Like other metals, RE is found in ore (rock) in West Australia. The ore is mined, cleaned and crushed into sand or powder form, before being shipped to Kuantan. The journey is about 5000 km. The size of a single grain of powder can be 100 times smaller than the diameter of a strand of hair.

Q4: Why do they take the RE from Australia and process it here?

The official statement said that Australia cannot provide high-skilled manpower, and that Australia cannot supply enough water, acids and natural gas to process RE.

Q5: What do we get in terms of income?

Malaysia was offered 12 years tax break by LYNAS, which means they do not pay us anything during the first 12 years of operation. Eventually, all revenue generated here will probably be channeled back to the LYNAS Inc. share holders in Australia, and not to LYNAS (M) Sdn. Bhd.

Q6: What do we get in terms of job opportunities?

Only a total of 350 employees are needed, including expatriate, skilled and unskilled workers. The number of employees in a mid-size supermarket is greater than this.

Q7: What do we get in terms of new world-class technology?

Malaysia is not a traditional, major RE-producing county. Transferring RE processing knowledge to Malaysia does not benefit the country and its people considerably.

Q8: So, what actually do we get?

Save the “jobs created, new technology and sales revenue of chemicals, water and natural gas”, strictly speaking, in the first 12 years – nothing! Except large quantities of waste. To be more precise, 500 cubic meters/hour of waste water, 100,000 cubic meters/hour of waste gas and 280,000 tonnes/year of solid waste.

Q9: Is RE dangerous?

Most RE metals are harmless, but in natural ore RE is normally mixed with the radioactive substances. During the separation process, valuable RE is extracted and exported to US, Europe and Japan, leaving behind harmful substances in Kuantan.

Q10: How dangerous is it?

The radioactive substances release radiation and two major toxic materials – radon gas and lead. Radon is a colorless, odorless toxic gas. When it gets into the human body through inhalation, it can damage cells and cause cancer. As for lead, many years ago petrol gas been changed from leaded to unleaded, as we didn’t want lead to be released to the air through our car exhaust. Lead can harm the nervous system, and cause brain and blood diseases. In short, two key hazards can be found in Gebeng RE plant – the radiation and the toxic materials.

Q11: Where and when can the radiation, radon and lead be found?

The RE raw material (in powder or sand form) arrives at the Kuantan port, then gets transported to Gebeng by truck, where it is unloaded, transferred and processed. Waste gas from chimneys, the waste water disposed into the Balok River, the solid wastes that are stored in Gebeng – possibly in all of the above we can find the radioactive substances, which can emit radiation, radon and lead, wherever and whenever they are present.

Q12: Mr. A lives in Balok, 3km from Gebeng. Mr. B lives in Kuantan, 30km from Gebeng. Mr. C lives in KL, 300km from Gebeng. Can the radioactive materials endanger them?

In short, the answer is NO for all of them if they stay more than 100 metres away from radioactive materials. But, the answer is YES for all three if they consumed these harmful substances, even if they stay hundreds of kilometres away. WHY? The radiation emitted in Gebeng doesn’t travel long distance to harm us, hence if you stand a short distance away from the materials without consuming it, all you will get is a slight radiation. Radon gas and lead in general do not affect our body externally, as we are protected by our skin. However, if these radioactive materials contaminate the solid waste, waste water and waste gas, they will be released to the atmosphere, water streams and eventually the food chain. Once the radioactive materials enter the human body via inhalation, ingestion and wound penetration, the radiation, radon and lead will be released inside the body and these can cause very serious consequences.

Q13: Why did they say that it is safe? Why did they say that the radioactivity is low? Who should I listen to?

You decide who you should listen to! It’s your life, it’s your family, it’s your home. See above to understand why they said the radioactivity is low. The media, authorities and LYNAS have failed to report the consequences of consuming radioactive materials.

 

The questions were answered by Dr. Lee Chee Hong, Chemical Engineering Expert on Metals.

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Posts by Sze Ming

Sze Ming is a nature lover who grew up enjoying the paddy fields in Kedah. Green warrior, she believes going green is the only way for longer lives. Currently she doing her Master of Public Policy in University Malaya. Tweets @szeming87

Posted on 6 September 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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59 Responses to Understanding the Lynas Rare Earth plant in 13 questions

  1. tyc

    We are encountering radioactive everyday, from smartphone to tv to paint to sunlight. All those thing we are classify as background radioactive. Every year we are almost absorbed about 2 mSV of radioactive dose. Nothing wrong that we set up lynas here, nuclear plant here…….. Nothing wrong but did our ppl know what is radioactive? did our ppl know what do you look at if we expose to it? Any emergency response team to it if there are a radioactive leak? Who should involve? our fireman or Mr police (but currently they are busy with the robbery case)? Our country recently was facing the HAZE problem, how is our emergency response? Now we are talking about the radioactive. So ppl think about it and don't just think about whether is safe or not.

  2. Ham Ga Chan

    Yay! Let us build the world first Hulk community in Malaysia!

  3. Bo Nau

    I have a lot of made in malaysia garbage in my country , will malaysia take it back? Pleaseeeeeeeee

  4. oolat

    "Q1: ….The difference between them is we don’t encounter RE in daily life, e.g. you don’t wear RE bracelets, you don’t build the bridge with RE…."

    But we DO encounter RE in daily life – mostly by using smartphones, watching our beloved flat plasma/LCD/LED/AMOLED/whatever TV sets and many other electronic gadgets (most of them have RE in them nowadays).

    Also, RE is all around us as long as there's dirt, albeit in trace amounts. A National Geographic mag issue has a feature on it too…

  5. looihw

    Quote: From Anti-Lynas " If you have so much confidence of its safety. Move your house and your family next to LYNAS."

    At present I live in a bungalow with 2 acres of free-hold land about 15 miles from the Lynas Rare Earth Plant. This land and house was bought with money earned by my own sweat and tears.

    So if anyone is good enough (or rather stupid enough) to buy for me, pay for me and give it to me 2 acres of free-hold land just next to the Lynas Plant and build for me a bungalow of my own design,

    I will be most willing to move myself and all my family to live next to the Lynas plant.

    AND DON'T FORGET TO BUY AND PAY FOR ME 100,000 KILOGRAMS OF PURE THORIUM-232 AS WELL!

    I WILL BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL TO THAT SOMEONE.

    Dato' Dr Looi Hoong Wah
    FAMM, MB.,ChB(Manchester), MRCS(England), MRCP(UK
    *
    http://kickdefella.net/2012/04/17/lynas-negligibl…

    http://kickdefella.net/2012/04/16/rare-earth-a-ri…

  6. looihw

    Please go to the following web sites to read more about Thorium-232

    http://www.nkkhoo.com/2012/03/04/banana-is-more-r…

    http://malaysiatoday.com/forum/politic-current-is…

    http://forum.lowyat.net/topic/2297172/+0#entry503…

    http://www.topix.net/forum/my/kuantan/TIAE005CLS2…

    Dato' Dr Looi Hoong Wah
    FAMM, MB.,ChB(Manchester), MRCS(England), MRCP(UK), MRCP(London)

  7. Dear Sze Ming,

    It is a brilliant article but it needs some clarification.
    The only significant radioactive substance in the Lynas ore concentrate is the weakly radioactive Thorium-232. Radon-220 in the decay chain has a half-life of only 55 seconds and do not accumulate in the ore and is essentially undetectable except with very sensitive equipment. Lead-212 has a half-life on 10.6 hours and Lead-208 is considered non-radioactive.

    Dr Looi HW

  8. Anon

    HOW COME MALAYA HAS THE "HIGH-SKILLED" MANPOWER & NOT AUSTRALIA???

    "The official statement said that Australia cannot provide high-skilled manpower, and that Australia cannot supply enough water, acids and natural gas to process RE."

    Could we slow down a minute?

    "Australia cannot provide high-skilled manpower, and that Australia cannot supply enough water, acids and natural gas to process RE…………"

    When did Malaya become more technologically advanced than Australia that it can provide the skilled manpower etc?

    Australia is one of the most advanced technological countries in the world while UMNO BN has taken education back into the stone age in terms of scientific advancement in trying to re-invent the wheel.

    This rationals is just a good excuse for Australia to export its toxic products on a 12 year tax holiday at the expense of the Kuantan people's health!

    The stuff is too dangerous for Australia even for it to process in the middle of nowhere in some dessert.

    So why dump it on Malaya which is miniscule in size by comparison and near some crowded populated area where maximum harm could be inflicted on the people and environment?

    In Mukah Sarawak the Rio Tincto Smelter is already causing huge health problems for inhabitants caught with some smart arse Taib money making scheme.

    So Lynas Kuantan makes not sense! Neither does the statement about Australian not have the "high-skilled manpower"!

  9. yasha

    "Lynas is hoping to begin operations in the Gebeng industrial zone by September, putting it on track to compete with China, which controls 95 per cent of the rare earth market."

    may i know how china survive from these radioactive material??

    • Rameeza

      r u telling me u wanna compare msia wt China??

      geographically, China is world's second-largest country by land area..and where is msia compared to that? and of course their technology is far more advanced and they are pioneers rare earth processing!

  10. JinHou

    http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/2011/09/09/permi…

    And this:

    This is only the tip of the iceberg on the huge discrepancies between the Ashton proposal and the operation in Gebeng. For example, you are wrong in saying that the transport of the concentrate is safe by claiming that it will be packed in double-layered bags, for the Radiological Impact Assessment stated that the concentrate will be transported "without any container under exclusive use" [3;pg 65] and that the driver is "anticipated to receive additional radiation exposure from inhalation of airborne dust" [3;pg 44], in addition to Friends of the Earth Australia and the Conservation Council of Western Australia's claim that it will be simply be packed in hessian bags [9]. I will leave those out for another day.

  11. it’s funny how some people commented “yeah, you should decide who you should listen to” when they actually meant “you should listen to me”.

  12. getreal

    of all the investments in thousands of industries available, is this the best kind we can attract? storing 200,000+ tonnes/year of dangerous waste for eternity is an acceptable compromise? does getting a % of the profits (hypothetically speaking) make it acceptable? really? we'd rather car makers go to thailand while we fight tooth and nail to attract & defend RE industry? well. i suppose this will be nothing compared to the 2 nuclear plants planned in the near future. anyone wants to take a guess where they'll be built? since east malaysia's got their Bakun Dam, will it be east coast or west coast of peninsular? perhaps one each? best to ask the whatshisname minister for details now before it's already half built. I'll bet most citizens will think that we will qualify as a developed nation by having these nuclear plants.

    • Ng Ai Soo

      A 1,000MW coal plant after 1 year of operation:

      6,000,0000 tons of CO2
      44,0000 tons of SO2
      22,0000 tons of NOx
      320,000 tons of ash
      400 tons of heavy metals (arsenic, mercury, etc.)

      and, here’s the kicker:

      5.2 tons or Uranium
      12.8 tons of Thorium

      and we are building TWO of these now to add to those we already have on the peninsula. Where do we store this waste? What is Lynas waste in comparison?! Protect our environment!

  13. William Wang

    It seems that we are at the cross road and which direction to take for our economic advancement. Malaysia has vast land mass in relation to its population unlike Japan & some western countries where they are limited with choices. Our agriculture is also a multi-billions industry and environmental friendly. Many countries had taken the road map to be nuclear free and no radioactive industry be allowed, a fine example is New Zealand. Ask any consumer, they would rather consume any product from NZ than those from industrial polluted western countries. Our consideration here is not only on the few thousand sacrificial lambs in Pahang which is regrettable but it may also destroy our agriculture industry. Imagine, what will importing countries of palm oil do, if they find traces of thorium in our palm oil. All exports from Peninsula will be suspended upon investigation. Those single digit billion profit from Lynas do not even belong to us and we cannot touch it for the next 12 years.

    • Ng Ai Soo

      And what if they find radioactive potassium in our bananas? By the way oir soil already contains traces of thorium, uranium and their decay products… where do we hide that so that they do not find it? New Zealand is not free of radiation even without a nuclear industry. Sadly, we also contain traces of radioactive materials… and so do they that receive our goods! You cannot be vague like this about something as ubiquitous as radioactive materials… you have to state permitted amounts as for example is stated in our relevant legislation. In other words, radioactive substances in Malaysia are regulated by law and must not be exceeded… in the same way as other countries and we do purposely or accidentally not export any dangerous stuff, edible or otherwise…. except in the case of coal fired power stations of which we are building two new 1GW ones now on the peninsula…. without a protest from you.

      • William Wang

        Explain to me, why singapore had on few occasions over the years stop veges from cameron highlands. During this period veges are dirt cheap in our markets.

        • Ng Ai Soo

          I do not know about these “veges”… perhaps you should ask the fastidious Singaporeans… for all we know they just might not have wanted to expend water washing them. But I do know that Cameron Highlands veges are still sold in Singapore and I cannot remember ever having to stop eating them here in Malaysia. Did you stop eating them? No water to wash them? What a waste!

          Explain to me why you are so afraid of radiation when it is already all around you and in you as well… and that goes for all of us. Explain why you do not care when coal fired power stations emit radioactive radon gas in addition to other pollutants… yet you care when Lynas emits less radon gas. This is just political wayang, isn’t it?

          • William Wang

            I am a conscientious objector to projects that do not seem right. Do you know that we had successfully prevented Sabah government from setting up coal-fired power plant in environmental sensitive areas. We do not object for the sake of objecting. Your point of view/argument, flawed to the degree of being ignorant. No point to continue.

  14. Koh Jun Lin

    For what it's worth, here's a full list of things that would knock me off the fence and become a Lynas supporter:

    1. Allegations of substandard construction work of LAMP are investigated.
    A competent and independent panel should be given the time, access, and resources necessary to inspect and test LAMP's structural integrity, in particular it's ability to contain any hazardous materials in the long term.

    2. Implement IAEA's recommendations.
    The International Atomic Energy Agency inspected the plant and made 11 recommendations and that it should be implemented before LAMP starts operations. Do it, without compromise. http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/pdf/lynas-rep…

    3. Lynas invests substantially in the local community via CSR activities, etc.
    It's getting a 12-year tax break after all. By "substantial", I mean something like 5% of profits.

    That's all, and I don't intend to shift this goal post unless something very big upsets the risk-benefit balance. Do that and I won't even mind them setting up shop in the industrial zone near my house.

    Anyone else with me?

  15. Koh Jun Lin

    For what it's worth, here's a full list of things that would knock me off the fence and become a Lynas supporter:

    1. Allegations of substandard construction work of LAMP are investigated.
    A competent and independent panel should be given the time, access, and resources necessary to inspect and test LAMP's structural integrity, in particular it's ability to contain any hazardous materials in the long term.

    2. Implement IAEA's recommendations.
    The International Atomic Energy Agency inspected the plant and made 11 recommendations and that it should be implemented before LAMP starts operations. Do it, without compromise. http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/pdf/lynas-rep…

    3. Lynas invests substantially in the local community via CSR activities, etc.
    It's getting a 12-year tax break after all. By "substantial", I mean something like 5% of profits.

    That's all, and I don't intend to shift this goal post unless something very big upsets the risk-benefit balance. Do that and I won't even mind them setting up shop in the industrial zone near my house.

    Anyone else with me?

    • Ng Ai Soo

      Agreed on the tax breaks… they should perhaps be given a graduated scale of breaks, more breaks at lower profits and less later at the higher profit levels… something akin to what the Australians might call "superprofit tax" or what others may term "windfall tax". That would seem more fair, don't you agree?

      • Koh Jun Lin

        My position on this is that the local community – and to a smaller extent all Malaysians – should benefit from the investment since it is our resources that is being put to use and our environment being put at risk. It would seem disproportionate if they reap huge profits whereas we get peanuts in return.

        The exact manner in which value is returned to Malaysian society is up for negotiation, as far as I'm concerned.

  16. tom michaels

    Am I reading you all correctly.?????..You dont want to stop using all the technology that has been revolutionised by Rare Earth..you know the list..mobiles/laptops/ipods etc etc..nor do you want to stop a .. greener world..hybrid/electric cars,wind /offshore turbines..nor medicine MRi machines/cancer curing..defence..etc…as non of you are protesting about shutting down the Industry globally…what you are saying is…move the LAMP else where..leave all the shit you feel its doing to your people to another nation..so you dont really give a crap about anyone else…as long as you can access all the gadgets..Because hypothetically..if Lynas was aousted..and decided that Malayasia was off limits..and locked out all REE produced goods…no new mobiles..hope the one you have now lasts till the end of your days..you all paint a very strange picture to me..

    • Ng Ai Soo

      Well, Tom… not everyone… please. Only the radioactive green hypocrites who lack understanding and rely on hopeless Chemical Engineering “experts” and who cannot see the contradictions in their own behaviour as they happily tap out anti-RE messages on their very smart phone. Strange indeed… looking for what seems a good cause will surely lead one to hell. Have they had their whiff of Radon 222 today? They should have… its everywhere! Goes well with K40 goreng pisang! This issue has nothing to do with radiation… and all to do with politics. Poor Tan Sze Ming… but then she’s young and has time to learn… though certainly not from so-called “experts” who cannot get the exact facts right. I suppose being vague is best for the activist agenda.

    • getreal

      it's a childish reasoning. do you mean the people of Malaysia need to protest this on a global scale to be meaningful? Every citizen of their respective country have a right to protect their environment. We are doing ours. what is wrong with that? and what's this hangup on machines, iphones and consumer products? should every nation on earth need to have a LAMP so that they can continuing using an iphone?

      • Ng Ai Soo

        Getreal,

        If you wish to protect our environment from radioactive pollutants, as you have every right to do, then you have to see where those pollutants are coming from. Today the most radioactive emissions into our environment are from coal fired power stations, both up the chimney and in the ash, see http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=coal-ash-is-more-radioactive-than-nuclear-waste; and some coal ash is used in cement manufacture. Much more than from Lynas! So how come you do not protect us from coal ash but want to save us from Lynas… is that not inconsistent?

        • Rameeza

          why do u have to keep relating to one thing or another? If WE thnk the LAMP project is going to be harmful..then be it.That is the truth. It is simply a Risk NOT WORTH taking.

          The potential damage is IRREVERSIBLE. The govt hasnt even cleaned the blood in their hands from Bukit Merah damage…and now they are plunging into a bigger waste ocean!!

  17. Lucky

    If the only concerns are radon and lead, then there does not appear to be too much to worry about unless you eat it.

    As part of the radioactive decay, radon (220Rn) has a half life of 55 seconds. After that it no longer exists. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decay_chain)

    Each year, Lynas says it will process an estimated 120 tonnes of Thorium. Thorium has a half life of 1.4 Billion years – On my amateur calculations in 1.4 Billion years half of this will turn into lead – that is less than 1 gram of lead per annum! – is this seriously something to worry about?

  18. ken

    I think Gebeng, Kuantan, Pahang and Malaysian residents, in that decreasing order of weight of voting, should have their say on the matter. This has now become an issue that is too complex and disputed for authorities alone to handle. Nor should the tyrants of growth-based economy, politics and Vision 2020 be allowed to have anything more than their rightful minor voices. In issues where there is high uncertainty and health threat, bring it back to the people to decide. It's the only way to ensure fairness to the process of democracy and governance.
    My guess is the risk isn't worth taking, especially in light of our current status as a poorly managed young nation.

  19. Payola Ignatius

    Makes no sense to allow something as potentially contaminating and dangerous as a rare earth processing plant on our shores (the environmental damage caused by every such plant in China is nightmarish)… unless the deal enriches UMNO cronies through under-the-table cash offerings. Lynas has publicly admitted paying an undisclosed amount to Putrajaya as a "guarantee" against possible calamities. However, it has made no mention of how much the Pahang sultan received for his royal blessing.

  20. Koh Jun Lin

    It looks like the safety of Lynas is contingent on the successful containment of the waste. Regardless of whether this condition is met, it still looks like a raw deal since we are undertaking a substantial risk, with minimal prospect of any benefit for 12 years. A lot can happen in 12 years; maybe the plant would be relocated to Indonesia.

    However, I think it should be pointed out that radon already exists in our environment, especially basement areas of buildings. I recall a USM lecturer presenting his research in a public lecture on the topic many years back, but I have forgotten the details. Perhaps the author would be interested in checking on that.

    That being said, we are constantly bombarded with ionizing radiation from many sources, natural or otherwise. We also have a limited ability to repair that damage. I think it is worthwhile to estimate how things balance out in terms of “x extra cancer cases per 100,000 per year due to Lynas” so we could quantify the risks involved. (I like dealing with probability in this format because it is easier to understand and harder to sensationalize).

  21. Lucky

    People run around saying 'no radiation is safe' – at the same time talking on their cell phones.

    • Koh Jun Lin

      There is a difference.

      Cell phone's microwave radiation are categorized as "non-ionizing radiation", meaning that it doesn't have the energy to knock electrons around and cause chemical changes. At worst, they'll vibrate atoms and molecules, generating heat.

      Otherwise the WHO would have classed it as Group 2A at least, not merely 2B.

      On the other hand, radon decay chain involves alpha and beta particles, which do pack sufficient punch to cause damage. These are categorized as "ionizing radiation".

      • Lucky

        220Rn, the 55 second thorium decay product decays with alpha radiation (not beta as you imply)

        Natural thorium decays very slowly compared to many other radioactive materials, and the alpha radiation emitted cannot penetrate human skin meaning owning and handling small amounts of thorium, such as a gas mantle, is considered safe. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_particle)

        Does anyone have a smoke detector in their house? – Alpha radiation.

        • William Wang

          You are right in saying alpha radiation is harmless & it cannot penetrate our skin. Thorium is only harmful when it gets into our food chain & water, also on the dust we breath.

        • Koh Jun Lin

          Sorry for the misunderstanding. Allow me to clarify my position.

          1. I said "decay chain". That means everything from Rn-220 until it becomes stable Pb-208, including when Pb-212 decays into Bi-212. My point on ionizing vs. non-ionizing radiation still stands.

          2. I meant to point out that comparing Lynas' radiation and cellphone radiation is erroneous, akin to comparing apples to oranges. One is a non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation; the other an unstable isotope that could (hypothetically) leach into the environment and become inhaled or ingested, whereupon it may decay into ionizing particles. I accept that that the particles themselves have little range or penetration, but wary of the isotopes that spontaneously emit them.

          3. The mechanisms by which radioactive materials could and could not become dangerous is already (I think) adequately covered by the original article, and I see no need to repeat or dispute it at this moment.

          Anything else?

          • Lucky

            Thank you for your clarifications.

            I understand you when you imply that the alpha emitting Radon is not a concern (unless ingested), and that some radiation is safe.

            For additional clarification, can you also clarify how much of the LAMP's processed Thorium will decay each year (in KG), and how long this decay chain from 220Rn to 208Pb usually takes?

          • Koh Jun Lin

            I don't know how much thorium will Lynas be dealing with, but I suspect the raw ore would not have just thorium as a radioactive contaminant. Instead, there will be many contaminants, radioactive or otherwise, including daughter radioisotopes of thorium in various stages of decay.

            The half-lives in each stage of the decay chain is available here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decay_chain

            Note: Although there is a "thorium series" is the link provided, different isotopes of thorium also appear in all other decay chains described in the article.

            Why did you ask me instead of Lynas about the composition of the ore? I'm not trying to pick a fight, and yet this discussion has morphed from the pointing out an erroneous comparison that has little to do with Lynas (something I erroneously thought would be simple and straightforward correction), to everything that has to do with Lynas' operations. What gives?

  22. Ahboytheone

    Hi
    Just want to note some points regards your blog above
    Regards

    Q1: Agree

    Q2: Agree

    Q3: The Ree is refined and converted into PASTE form NOT “powder form” and enclosed in double sealed especially designed bags. Approved by the Enviro agencies of Western Aust. The radioactive content of the REE is so low that it is NOT even classified as radioactive for transporting by the Enviro agencies of Aus.

    Q4. My understanding is that Kuantan deemed a “ultra-modern industrial region servicing the petrochemical and chemical manufacturing industries” was part of the lure for Lynas to establish there and requested by the Gov of Malay. The source of labour, and port facilities are also reasons.

    Q5. You said “Malaysia was offered 12 years tax break by LYNAS”. Correction, It’s actually the Gov of Malaysia who offered the Tax Free status to Lynas under the “Pioneer Status” program.
    Pioneer Status reasons : “Pioneer status is also available to strategic projects defined as projects of national importance which involve heavy capital expenditure, long gestation periods, high levels of technology and have a significant impact on the economy”

    Q6. Lynas is expected to gross anything from 6billion ringgit to 12 billion ringgit per year. At a 20% estimated cost of production at the LAMP (excluding tax), Kuantan people and supporting industries in Kuantan working and supplying to Lynas will be looking at revenue and income from anywhere between 1.2billion ringgit to 2.4 billion. This goes straight into the community and industries of Kuantan (excluding tax). Which is equivalent to $1700 per person in Kuantan.

    Q7. IF you have been following the rare earth industry over the last two/three years, China is restricting REE exports to force/encourage high tech developed industries outside China to move into China. This will allow China to move forward into the future, grow and develop to be the supper nation that she believes. Malaysia has this opportunity through the Lamp and Lynas and the vision of Gov. New world class tech has alreadybeen indicated through the agreement with World class Siemens and Lynas JV to develop supper magnets for wind turbines and electric cars.

    Q8: Read response to Q6 and Q7.

    Q9. The LAMP is a world class Advance Material Plant for the modern sustainable high tech industries. It is built with modern day tech!

    Q10. A quick google reveals that Radon gas from http://en.wikipedia.org
    Radon is a natural occurring noble gas. As the name suggest, radon has an “extremely low level of reactivity . So not dangerous at all as you have suggested.
    Radon gas is common in houses especially concrete/cement houses with poor ventilation.
    Radon from the Lamp i.e. Radon222 actually has a half life of 1minute.
    Well water/ground water can be very rich in radon gas depending on the soil type that encompasses it.
    In many countries Radium rich springs and baths have been used for healing purposes. The process is called “Radiation hormesis”. Some people from Japan, Germany, Czech Republic Austria, Even the United States and other European nations practise the bathing in the belief that it will cure illness and medical conditions such as arthritis since the early 1900’s. A study by Franke relating to “Radon spa therapy in rheumatoid arthritis” in Yr 2000 actually showed that Radon “induce beneficial long-term effects” in the human body.
    The Ree from the LAMP is only 1/50th (or equivalent to 2%) the radioactive content of Bukit Merah. In relative terms, the LAMP needs to be in OPERATIONS FOR FIFTY YEARS to produce the same radioactive content as 1 year production at Bukit Merah.

    Q11 and Q12:
    Go back to my response to Q3 “The Ree is refined and converted into PASTE form NOT “powder form” and enclosed in double sealed especially designed bags.” There will be no powder. So there is no real danger of radon gas/small particles emitted exposed through transport. Radon from the LAMP also has a half life of less than 1 minute.

    Q13.
    Finally regards radiation in general:
    Sydney Aus has a nuclear reactor at Lucus Heights which is approx 900metres from the nearest residential home and 30km from the CBD with a population of 4.5million. Sydney is also one of the premier tourist destinations in the world.
    Kuantan has the LAMP (an ADVANCED MATERIAL PLANT not a nuclear reactor) with a pop of 700,000. The Lynas LAMP is not even a nuclear plant.

    “You decide who you should listen to!”

    • ken

      You're assuming that the 20% cost of production neatly equates to revenue for purely Kuantan businesses and Kuantan folks. It's probably not the case, and more likely the revenue earned will go to pockets outside of Kuantan. RM1,700/person is hence very misleading.
      Also, you're assuming "job opportunities" can be easily measured in monetary terms of RM/person. This is simply not true as a job includes all sorts of other non-monetary aspects like satisfaction, status, purpose, identity, community participation, etc, all of which are important when it comes to "job opportunities".

      • Ahboytheone

        Point accepted, however, it is certainly a lot more than what is claimed by Tan of NOTHING in the first 12 years!

        • ahboytheone

          Also to be fair, my calculations of RM1700/person was based on a minimum of RM6 billion gross (NOT RM 12billion).
          Even reducing total cost to 10% taking into consideration for revenue going to outside sources from the community will equate to RM800/person per year.
          That would certainly improve the standard of living for all Kuantan people for the many years to come!

    • William Wang

      What about thorium & uranium that are also associated with rare earth which you failed to add. Q3. Paste form, what for, the radiation at this stage is just like anywhere else before processed. Q5. High tech? the process is only equivalent to extracting copper & gold ore. Lots of water & acid. Q7. China feels that the level of danger that chinese are exposed are not well compensated thus restricting supply for better price. Invariably, our enviroment, peoples' health will be affacted. We are actually getting the scum of dangerous industries. Have we become so hopeless that we must have this kind of industry to survive. It is like selling our blood for a daily meal.

      • Ahboytheone

        Lynas ore does not contain uranium only low level thorium 1/50th that of Burkit Merah (i.e. 2%) Like I said before In relative terms, the LAMP needs to be in OPERATIONS FOR FIFTY YEARS to produce the same radioactive content as 1 year production at Bukit Merah.

        Regards paste Q3: The anti lynas movement have used the "small fine particles" as a reason for opposing the dangers of Lynas. The viscous form of the REE ore would hold the ore as a large clump which would prevent people from inhaling the stuff (unless you eat it). The level of radiation is also so low that it is NOT even considered radioactive material for transform by the ENVIRO authorities of W.Aus.

        I am unfamiliar with the finer details of the extraction process of REE from the LAMP, however, I can assure you that it IS NOT AS SIMPLE AS EXTRACTING COPPER AND GOLD as you have claimed.

        The importants of rare earths to China and the rest of the world is summaried very well by the Chinese President Deng Xiaoping back in 1992.
        "There is oil in the Middle East; there are rare earths in China"

        You said " Have we become so hopeless that we must have this kind of industry to survive."
        To answer your Q, to an extent you have the ask the youth culture of today with their reliance on iphones, ipods, ipads, mp3's etc etc all getting smaller and smaller. Our destruction of our environment and climate change is also a cause for concern. This is where REE plays an important roll.

        The rare earth industry I am sure you are aware is not just important to the high tech industry of tomorrow, it also plays an integral part in development of green and sustainable industries of the future.

        The dangerous industries and the "scums" you call for are in reality those industries that rely on burning fossil fuels and hydrocarbons that are causing climate change and environmental damage such as the coal industry! LAMP and Lynas in some ways will help reduce the impact of global enviro destruction contrary to your perceived views.

        • Y.W

          "Lynas ore does not contain uranium only low level thorium…"

          Are you saying that Lynas will ONLY process the ore from Mt Weld in LAMP Malaysia?
          How many LAMP does Lynas own?
          Where do you expect Lynas to process the ore dug out from Malawi?

          • ahboytheone

            The LAMP is a Chemical plant and is built and approved for the ore from Mt Weld.
            Processing REE is not as simple as one expects and each ore deposit is different. One cannot simply process ore from any ree deposit.

            Unless you have inside info from the Co, Lynas nor has anyone else have hinted the idea of using ore from Malawi in the Lamp. Even if they end up transporting the ore to the lamp, it will be many years yet through many approvals.
            Reality is, no processing plant or any sought has been considered and no get work has been done at Malawi. So linking the LAMP to Malawi is a little far-fetched at this point in time!

          • Y.W

            So, if Lynas is going to process the REE ore other than those from Mt Weld, then you will against them, right?

            If you didn't read any news about Malawi ore, here it is…reported half a year ago in March 2011!! http://www.raremetalblog.com/2011/03/malawi-geari…

            It clearly mentioned "…Malaysia or China". Unless you know Lynas own any LAMP in China that no one knows, please tell me then.

            Otherwise, Reality? Far-fetched?

          • Ahboytheone

            Firstly, thanks for the interesting link!

            Approve has not been given for the LAMP to process Malawi ORE so YES, I would be against it, UNLESS of cause , the proper channels are used and the right approvals given.

            LYNAS has not asked/requested/considered ORE from Malawi to be processed through the LAMP. Even the person you quoted above didn't know and was only guessing. Also there is currently no concentration blueprint as yet designed in Malawi. So any such mining of ore there will still take several years.

            One would also have to ask, why would Lynas go through the hassles again anyway to send Malawi ore to the LAMP after the initial controversies? Plus it is not out of the Q that Malawi ore is sold to Co's in China directly for processing.

            As stated before "Processing REE is not as simple as one expects and each ore deposit is different. One cannot simply process ore from any ree deposit. "

            In conclusion, as stated before "linking the LAMP to Malawi is a little far-fetched at this point in time!"

          • neptunian

            To gain trust, one must be at least seen to be honest… never mind being actually honest.

            To claim that Australia's does not have required skill workers, whereas Malaysia has, as one of the "strong" reason to site the LAMP here already shows that Lynas is dishonest. This statement is not a quote from above article, but a quote from Lynas CEO at a press conference.

            And malaysia also has better infrastructure? ha ha

        • William Wang

          You have also answered why we should not have Lynas here. Imported in paste form, shows that it is dangerous even before being processed to concentrated radioactive waste. So you really believe everything can work like clockwork, with no accident or spillage? Even those in advanced & developed countries cannot reverse nuclear fallout or contamination, except to let nature takes its course. Like I said, the technology behind this, is not high, containment to the radioactive waste takes more effort or tech, if you can call that. It is like; we introduce disaster and try to find a solution to it later. You cannot run a business on sustainable & long term basis like that without sacrifices. It is obvious that this will be a hit & run, short term venture. They will be long gone before you can even tax or get any benefit out of it. The world does not have any solution to reverse any form of epidemic disaster, be it disease, global warming or such dangerous & destructive greed. Can we abstain ourselves & think of the few thousands that can be of immediate danger or they should be sacrificial lambs for the sake of FDI( if u can call that) & so called technology.

    • Rameeza

      were/are u a lynas employee to guarantee they use moden technology that ensures 100% safety on residents?

  23. AlexKungFu

    It doesn't matter if the radiation is low, it's still radiation.

    Would you like to have a bowl of mee sup if it has a little shit in it? C'mon it's just a little shit. A little shit is still shit, a little radiation is still radiation!

  24. ken

    There are 2 very pertinent questions that were left out:
    - What is the political motive for such a project?
    - How have the people been involved in the decision-making process of this project? (we are, after all, a democratic society)

  25. pedaspedih

    Who offered whom a tax break?

  26. Lucky

    Bukit Merih was shut down because it was 50x more radioactive than the Lynas ore.

    Workers getting the equivalent radiation to one xray a year is permissable. Getting the equivalent dosage of 50 xrays is beyond acceptable levels.

    People outside the plant get *much* lower dosage.

    • getreal

      It's the waste materials. How do you get rid of thousands of tonnes of radioactive waste? They ended up being dumped at disused mining ponds nearby. Until today, all the waste materials are still there.

  27. So why was rare earth plant in Bukit merah in Perak shut down?