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Lynas pushes ahead with Malaysian plant

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AAP

2012-11-20

Rare earths miner Lynas expects production at its controversial plant in Malaysia to begin in December after long delays caused by environmental and political concerns.

After a drawn-out approval process and several legal challenges from locals and activists, Lynas' advanced materials plant in Gebeng, Malaysia, currently has a temporary operating licence.

However, opponents, arguing the mine will pollute nearby land, are still seeking an interim stay on the licence and have appealed to the Malaysian High Court.

The delays to first production also has forced Lynas to raise $200 million by issuing new shares recently.

Lynas' share price has suffered, recently hitting an all-time low of 55 cents, down from $1.165 a year ago.

"I know this has been a testing year for everyone," executive chairman Nicholas Curtis told the company's annual general meeting in Sydney on Tuesday.

"It has been a year when the noise around the company has reached an amplitude that is, quite frankly, not sustainable and very negative for us all.

"But, I have to say that short-term share market performance is not our main focus as management of Lynas.

"One to two tough years to bring the business to life need to be put in the context of the long-term vision we are realising.

"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."

Production revenue was set to flow from the first quarter of calendar 2013, Mr Curtis said.

After reaching unsustainable highs, prices for rare earths have now fallen and growth in demand is expected to resume, possibly as soon as the second half of 2013, he said.

Rare earths are metallic elements used in products ranging from digital televisions, mp3 players and fluorescent light bulbs.