SYDNEY Nov 20 Australia's Lynas Corp
expects to start processing rare earth minerals from a plant in
Malaysia next month despite opposition from environmentalists
over health concerns, the company said on Tuesday.
The plant should be nearing full production of the minerals
used across a range of high-tech products from mobile phones to
state-of-the-art weaponry by mid-next year, according to Lynas
chairman Nick Curtis.
Setting the timetable lifted Lynas shares, which have been
hammered by concerns the plant was facing more delays, more than
8 percent to A$0.69. The broader market was up about 0.5
percent, extending an overnight rally on Wall Street.
Activists linked to the group Save Malaysia Stop Lynas
staged a protest during the company's annual general meeting in
Sydney on Tuesday following the decision by a Malaysian court to
lift a suspension on a temporary operating licence for the
"By the second half of calendar 2013, we expect to be moving
towards full production capacity and have a business that has
the potential to deliver sustainable and predictable earnings,"
Curtis told the meeting.
The $800 million plant -- the world's biggest outside China
-- has been ready to fire up since early May but Lynas has been
delayed by environmental and safety disputes.
Massive quantities of super heated sulphuric acid are
required to separate the rare earth elements from impurities
found in the ore.
The company says its plant is safe and is not comparable to
a rare-earths plant in Malaysia that was shut by a unit of
Mitsubishi Chemicals in 1992, after nearby residents blamed the
plant for birth defects and a high rate of leukemia cases.