Several weeks ago. I was invited to meet a delegation of Malaysian citizens who came to Australia to spread the word about their campaign against Australian company Lynas’s rare earth LAMP plant which is just cranking up to process its first feedstock from the company’s Mount Weld mine in Western Australia. The event was hosted by Greens MP Jamie Parker on the same day that the group had demonstrated outside Lynas’s annual general meeting for the second year in a row.
The visitors spoke passionately about their concerns about the Lynas rare earth plant. These Malaysians, who were supported by individual Australian Malaysians and Friends of the Earth Australia, hadn’t even been consulted before Lynas was granted a construction license in 2008. Knowing how angry our community felt a couple of years ago when we heard a coal seem gas drill was coming to Tempe in inner Sydney, I listened carefully to what they had to say and decided to investigate further.
Up until that time, I knew little about Lynas. Once I started looking it was not hard to find material and sources although much of the information was contradictory and confusing at first. I wanted to interview Lynas CEO Nick Curtis but as he was not available, I had to settle for a ‘spokesperson” who regrettably preferred not to be named.
Here are the first two parts of my investigation:
Part One: The Toxic Waste’s that’s not in our backyard. New Matilda Dec. 17, 2012
Part Two:Lynas’ Waste Plans a Toxic Pipe Dream. New Matilda Dec 19, 2012
If you are interested in this story, here are some sources worth reading and following:
For Malaysian coverage, Malaysiakini is good news site. It is more independent of the government than the Malaysian mainstream media. It publishes regular updates about the controversy and the campaign. You can subscribe ( including a free trial) but many stories go up free here. I was pleased that Malaysiakini followed up on our New Matilda investigation. here and here. Here is their latest update following my second story.
Here are some other stories. This list is a reminder of the important role independent journalism in increasingly playing in Australia.
A comprehensive feature by Joel Tozer in Global Mail: What a Battle Over Rare Earths Has To Do With Your iPhone July 20, 2012
The progressive US magazine Mother Jones has also just done a big feature, Your smart phone’s dirty radioactive secret on rare earths including the clean up of radioactive waste at an old Mitsubishi plant at Bukit Merah in Malaysia, as well as Lynas.
A Backgrounder from New Matilda, May 2011.
Crook, A. Lynas cops heat from protestors, shareholders over Malay refinery plans. Crikey April 18, 2011
Crook, A. Fresh Protests as focus turns to Lynas’s radioactive dump. Crikey, May 13, 2011
Here are three important New York TImes articles including reports about how concerned engineers working on the construction were about structural defects in the building. The engineers leaked documents to the New York Times. This was a breakthrough in the Lynas story.
Bradsher, K. Taking a risk for rare earths. March 8, 2011.
Gooch, L. Environmental protest becomes rallying point In Malaysia, June 18, 2011
Bradsher, K. Fear of a toxic rerun June 29, 2011
Green Left supports the campaign against the Lynas LAMP and has many reports, including video on their site. Here are two but the best way to find more is to search Lynas at Green Left.
Boyle, P. Malaysians resist Oz toxic company’s toxic plan. GreenLeft, June 18, 2011
Boyle, P. Malaysia: Stop Lynas campaigners challenge company’s licence to operate. GreenLeft, August 29, 2012
Peter Boyle has also taken many photos.
Save Malaysia, Stop Lynas campaign was formed in March 2011. Its site provide links to current coverage relevant to the campaign.
The Australian Stop Lynas campaign started in response to protests in Malaysia.
Friends of the Earth Australia are also campaigning against Lynas.
Lynas company site tells the story from its point of view.
You can follow Lynas share price and company announcements, including annual reports on the Australian Stock Exchange site.
I’ll be tweeting on Lynas and expect to do more reporting on this issue.
As a reporter, this was the first time I had experienced hate messages via twitter. These were posted by Lynas supporters. I can understand why shareholders and employees could be anxious but that doesn’t mean that the truth should not come out about the LAMP project. I guess this is just part of reporting in the 21st century. I don’t like it but prefer it to verbal threats.
I’ll do another blog post soon about some of the issues raised in the Lynas campaign.