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Lynas Having a Laugh at Australia’s Political Impotence
Western Australian Green MLCs have joined a massive public outcry from Malaysians to oppose the imminent first shipment of radioactive ore as Sydney-based mining company Lynas moves to ship 22,000 tonnes of radioactive ore through Fremantle Port each year.
The ores from Mt Weld are processed to a concentrate suitable for shipment to the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng, about 25km from Kuantan in the state of Pahang, Malaysia. Over 700,000 residents live within a 30km radius of the plant.
The history of the plant has been fraught with difficulty, with significant opposition from the Malaysian community, who are unwilling to be the recipient of Australia’s contaminated wastes and have consistently protested the plant in gatherings of up to 15,000 people.
Despite the widespread concerns over the plant and the disposal of its radioactive wastes, a two-year temporary licence for the company has been issued.
Robin Chapple MLC, Greens WA spokesperson for the Mining and Pastoral region had this to say about the announcement of Lynas’ licence:
“For all intents and purposes, this approval looks like the sanctioning of an Australian mining company making use of lax environmental controls and governance arrangements in a developing country. To my mind it has not gone through a rigorous environmental process and should not have been issued. This is a poor representation of Australian notions of ‘fair play’ and good corporate citizenship and one that it seems our State Government is paying little mind to.”
To add an additional layer to this story the ores are to be shipped through Fremantle Port within a matter of weeks, and has had no consultation with community. The City of Fremantle has one of the most environmentally proactive Councils in the state, and its ability to represent its constituents, many of whom would be opposed to having these ores come through their City, has been severely hampered by the deficient governance processes of Lynas.”
Fremantle based Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren said: “Just as the Fremantle community resoundingly rejected the risk of exposure to lead carbonate, we oppose shipping this material through our city. We don’t want to be a cog in the wheel of subjecting innocent men, women and children in Malaysia to exposure of toxic waste.
“It is unacceptable for the Australian Government to wash its hands of responsibility for the effects of unsustainable mining, whether they are in our own backyard or that of our neighbours,” she concluded.
Dato' Ambiga Sreenevasan in the centre. She is a Malaysian lawyer, born 1956, who served as the President of the Malaysian Bar Council from 2007 to 2009. She is a well-known public figure in Malaysia.
Malaysians against the Lynas export proposal. Photos by Robin Chapple.