Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lynas Propagating Prosperity, Not Propaganda

Lynas Corporation must be wondering what it did to merit its opposition. This Australian producer of rare earths minerals has been building its advanced material processing facility in Kuantan, Malaysia in an environment of political narcissism where the propagation of disinformation disguised as ‘due process’ gains undeserved momentum. 

The politicization of its efforts is well-documented in the media, nonetheless in the midst of this shemozzle, Lynas continues, without fanfare, to bring increasing and significant value to the local community, a community that ought to and can grow with Lynas, not in spite of it.

Quite apart from the 250 plus direct employees and the estimated 1000 indirect jobs created by Lynas, in 2010, it introduced the Lynas Balok Ivory Tower program. 

The aim of the program is to assist local Kuantan students from poor and underprivileged backgrounds to gain the necessary academic skills to achieve placements at local universities. 

The program operates under the patronage of his Royal Highness the Sultan of Pahang, Sultan Haji Ahmad Shad and is managed by the National University of Malaysia.

This program required significant commitment from Lynas staff. It provides students with extra offline tuition and mentoring opportunities that will prepare them for tertiary education and later, for their careers. 

Graduates of the Balok Ivory Tower program are also able to extend the benefits and opportunities resulting from their participation to achieve superior life outcomes for themselves, their families and therefore also the local community. 

Lynas managers give freely of their own time to “foster” the students and their families, to help improve their lives. 

This involves countless hours of mentoring on weekends and week nights with students and their families, to complement and enhance the education received by students. 

Lynas managers encourage parental participation and inclusion as they believe it is integral to successful outcomes for student participants.

The Lynas staffs’ contribution was not initiated as a call of duty or “job requirement” but more a willingness to do something for the people on behalf of a community-minded company. 

They saw it as the type of valued contribution a new advanced technology partner could bring to a community. 

Far from finding it a burden, the Lynas managers were rewarded with a wonderful experience of support and encouragement borne from helping disadvantaged children to gain a feeling of greater self-worth and accomplishment.

Lynas was pleased to announce in December 2011 that the first phase of the Balok Ivory Tower Academic Program was completed with 67 students successfully achieving the minimum requirement to gain placement at a local University or College.

The anti-Lynas people would have you believe that Lynas is not engaging with the local community but this program, as well as the locally initiated communication forums that have involved over 12,000 local residents, tell a different story.

Lynas has continued to jump through hoops, none of which they created or deserved. They were criticized for poor communication – perhaps with some merit in the early stages of their presence in Kuantan – but now they have addressed and engaged the community with project information and provide a level of real community support, which cannot be denied.

Lynas is not even operating and is already contributing remarkably in practical ways to the local community, yet it is opposed by local politicians, small on reasonable argument but big on fear propaganda. 

Lynas has gone to great lengths, expending money, time and technical ability to ensure the safe operation of its plant. It is exactly the type of business needed in a modern Malaysia.

These questions should be asked of the anti-Lynas people: “What is your problem? Why are you continuing to oppose a company which clearly offers such benefits to the community and country?”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

All Froth And No Substance

Save Malaysia, Stop Lying
The very name – SAVE MALAYSIA STOP LYNAS (SMSL) – speaks volumes: it openly declares its deceitfulness as a ‘purpose-specific’ opposition organisation bent only on thwarting the genuine efforts of the good people of Gebeng and the Lynas project in Malaysia; it implies the Lynas project is a threat to the very existence of Malaysia, a preposterous claim devoid of any rationale and one incapable of reconciliation in the mind of any reasonable person.

SMSL’s objective runs contrary to that of the Malaysian Government whose stated aim is to place the country in an enviable position as the high-tech hub of Asia; to encourage companies at the cutting edge of technology to operate in Malaysia, developing the economy, providing satisfying careers, increasing the country’s Gross Domestic Product and improving living standards and quality of life for all citizens.
The government enticed Lynas to Malaysia by offering taxation incentives, with assurances that the country was ready to embrace such a project, with all the necessary infrastructure and a trained workforce in place.
It led Lynas to build its plant at Gebeng where petro-chemical, chemical and other similar types of industries are located.  The plant is no closer to residential areas than any of these existing industries which have also proved to be no danger to the community.
Without exception, Lynas complied with all conditions of approval imposed by the AELB, which is the authority with approval responsibility.  The AELB, in its diligence and care for the people of Malaysia, even applied additional rigorous compliance and safety checks on the project by calling for the International Atomic Energy Authority, as the independent world nuclear safety authority, to investigate and provide any and all recommendations necessary to ensure the safety of the operation.  Its basic finding was that the project safety standard is world’s Best Practice.
Lynas complied with the IAEA’s additional requirements, then went even further than that by installing 2 instruments to measure radioactivity levels.  These instruments automatically supply live readings to the internet – their installation is further explicit proof of the safety of the project.
After these exhaustive, time consuming investigations, the AELB eventually approved the necessary Temporary Operating Licence, allowing production to commence.
Through all these steps, SMSL with Fuziah Salleh prominently in the lead, has had ample opportunity to submit its objections and to voice its concerns.  It has not missed any chance to do so, focusing endlessly on toxic radioactivity, ‘Fukushima-type’ disasters, dangerously radioactive waste material escaping into the environment and so on.
These objections have all been given serious and due consideration by highly qualified relevant experts and found to be unsound scientifically and therefore in due course the SMSL claims were rightfully disregarded.
Let me say that again: SMSL presented all the evidence it has to the AELB and that information has been so un-compelling, the AELB has given its decision against SMSL and in favour of Lynas.
SMSL has been stubbornly unwilling and unable to accept that decision from the AELB, the Government body charged with the responsibility, expertise and authority to make that comprehensive and informed decision on behalf of the citizens of Malaysia.  Instead, it has continued to rant and rave emotionally about toxic radioactivity and impending apocalyptic doom for Malaysia.  It has taken court action to impede further progress.
Clearly, the only decision that will satisfy them is one that will see no operation ever in the Lynas plant.
They claim to want to save Malaysia from being destroyed by Lynas.  In all their evidence to the inquiries, they have been unable to produce any scientific evidence to justify this emotional, hysterical claim.  Nor has any reputable scientist independently been able to offer any facts to support their claims.  It is clear to impartial observers (many of them around the world are watching in amazement) that they have no case, yet they have continued making the same claims which have already been rejected a number of times.
Their leadership must have some intelligence.  Fuziah Salleh is a member of Parliament and I presume her brain is capable of discerning fact from fiction.  Jade Lee, another “leader” in the anti-Lynas group is university educated and should have some intellectual capacity although she often gives no indication of it, arguing with a fair degree of vitriol.
So there would be a number of reasonably intelligent people in the SMSL organisation who understand that their claims about the danger of the Lynas plant to the community and nation are unfounded.
Knowing they are in the wrong, they nevertheless have willfully and hypocritically continued their opposition, claiming the high moral ground.  So why have they done that?  Why have they not accepted the highly regarded AELB’s decision?
The answer is they are playing politics.  This has nothing to do with safe-guarding the health of the population and the environment (the approval process has already achieved that).  It has everything to do with the upcoming election.
There is no risk whatever to the community from Lynas’s plant which has been acknowledged as the safest, most advanced plant of its type in the world.  It will operate safely and be the leading edge of Malaysia’s push towards high technology leadership in Asia.
Shame on you, SMSL.  Shame on you, Fuziah Salleh.  Instead of your own interests, it’s time for you to put those of Malaysia first. - Read More

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lynas Announce Innovative Shared Value Initiative

August 26, 2012 (Source: Lynas) -- Lynas Corporation today announced plans to invest in a range of programmes aimed at building an innovative approach to creating shared value in host communities.

“Our vision is firmly anchored in the creation of shared value through co-operative economic development,” said Lynas Executive Chairman Nicholas Curtis.

“This initiative has been established to identify further projects that increase productivity and capability within the community.  It has the potential to unleash a new wave of socio-economic growth.”

The economic benefits derived from the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) have already had a significant impact in economic development in the region through the creation of employment opportunities, technology transfer and development of new capacity in service and supply activities by local industries valued at over MYR450 million per annum.

The attraction of new investment in high technology sector and spin-off for a cluster of local industries will add to this under the Shared Value Initiative.

“Our understanding of the potential of shared value is just beginning.  It goes beyond the direct economic impact of our current investments.  

By reconceiving our plant outputs into valuable, new co-products and markets; by redefining productivity in the value chain; and by facilitating local cluster development and the involvement of local entrepreneurs to venture into high tech industry using rare earth products, we can help find profitable solutions that support host community aspirations.”

“We’re looking at our decisions and opportunities through the lens of shared value.  We believe this will lead to new approaches that generate greater innovation and growth for our company – and also greater benefit for the communities in which we operate.”

Today’s announcement follows an earlier commitment to fund additional research and development by investing from revenues generated by the LAMP. 

These research and development activities will be aimed at supporting Malaysia’s economic goals and will see the sponsorship of research activity within Malaysia.

Mr Curtis said, “The promotion of research and development activities in local higher education institutions underscores the importance we place in this area.

“Alliances between business and the education sector can lead to sustainable programs that deliver enormous benefits to the community.

“Lynas views education as crucial to opening up choices in life – it enables young entrepreneurs to seize opportunities, helping them to fulfill their potential.

“As Lynas’ business expands, it is entirely appropriate that our social investment portfolio increases in conjunction.  Lynas firmly believes that our long term success depends on being able to strike equal importance for co-operative economic development, care for the environment and communities, and for social development.”

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pahang Continues To Attract Investor

BENTONG: Pahang continues to attract foreign investors despite the hype by the opposition political parties about the Lynas rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, said Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob.

The latest development was the potential investment of about RM1 billion by investors from China to put up a factory and the expansion of Kuantan port in the commercial interest, he said.  

Pahang continued to receive investment of RM2 billion annually, which has opened up many employment opportunities for the people of the state, he told reporters after an Aidilfitri reception he organised at the Bentong Municipal Council hall, here, yesterday.   

"If the setting up of the Lynas factory is hazardous, why are many foreign investors flocking to invest in Kuantan? Even a private Chinese school is to be built in Kuantan soon. 

"This only goes to show that the construction of the Lynas factory is not hazardous and has been politicised by the opposition for the general election," he said. 

Adnan said he had not received any report of people having sold their land or house in Gebeng for fear of the Lynas factory operation. 

Instead, people were coming to see him to seek recommendation for job and contract opportunities at the Lynas and other factories, he said. 

Lynas chose to operate in Malaysia because of its cheaper production costs compared to Australia while China had tightened export of the product. Lynas too had obtained licences to build the factory in the two countries. -- BERNAMA

China Rises Rare Earth Export Quota

August 22, 2012 (Source: The Australian) -- China has increased its 2012 export quota for rare earths for the first time since 2005, issuing an additional batch today to bring the year's total to 30,996 tonnes.

The country's rare-earth export policies are closely watched as it controls 95 per cent of the world's production of the metals, which are crucial in a wide range of hi-tech applications including defence systems, wind turbines and smartphones.

However, the quota increase is largely symbolic as actual exports have fallen sharply - exporters have used up only around half of last year's quota. Customs data yesterday showed exports in the first seven months of this year are down 36.7 per cent.

The Ministry of Commerce said in a statement that it would set the second batch at 9770t, resulting in a full-year quota that's 2.7 per cent higher than last year's 30,184t. The ministry typically issues the quota twice a year.

The second batch includes 8537t of light rare earths and 1233t of medium-to-heavy metals.

North Square Blue Oak analyst Frank Tang said: "International pressure on China (to loosen export controls) has been quite high and the case has reached the World Trade Organisation.

"The government already said last year that it would keep its quota largely unchanged in 2012, and it's now signalling to the wider world not to worry."

Beijing might be re-evaluating the quota's usefulness, and has roped in industry experts for discussions on removing the cap, Mr Tang said.

The WTO said in July that it set a panel to probe China's rare-earth export policies following requests by the US, the European Union and Japan.

Beijing has defended its policy as a means to control a polluting industry, although its export restrictions have boosted prices in recent years.

Still, prices have fallen since last year due to weaker global demand. Prices of bellwether products such as neodymium oxide have more than halved since last year to around $US105t on Monday, according to Australia's Lynas Corp.

Since China began to drastically cut quotas from 2009 to restrict exports, global suppliers have made headway in meeting the shortfall and helped reduce dependence on Chinese supply.

US-based Molycorp has begun production at its California mine, and Lynas is due to start production at its Mount Weld facility this year. The two projects together could potentially account for about a third of global demand.
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