Malaysia postpones meeting with Australia on Lynas waste

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s energy and environment minister has delayed a visit to Australia to discuss rare earth miner Lynas Corp’s storage of radioactive waste in the Southeast Asian nation, according to a ministry spokeswoman.

The trip, initially scheduled for this week, has been postponed “pending further developments”, the spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Minister Yeo Bee Yin was due to meet Bill Johnston, Western Australia state’s minister for mines, on Thursday to discuss the removal of the radioactive waste from Malaysia.

Johnston said Western Australia will not accept the waste, Australian media reported earlier this month.

Australia-listed Lynas, the only significant producer of rare earths outside of China, is waiting on renewal of the operating license for its $800-million Malaysian processing plant. The license expires in September.

Malaysia’s environment ministry had set conditions in December for Lynas to remove its waste stockpiles before it would renew its operating license.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said last month that Lynas will be allowed to keep operating in Malaysia.

The Malaysian environment ministry has said it wants to discuss ways to manage the low-level radioactive residue produced by Lynas at its rare earth processing plant.

Reporting by Liz Lee and A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Tom Hogue