Rare Earths MMI: Malaysia grants Lynas Corp. three-year license renewal

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The Rare Earths Monthly Metals Index (MMI) rose three points for a March MMI reading of 23.

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Lynas receives three-year license renewal for Malaysia operations

Australia’s Lynas Corporation, the world’s largest rare earths firm outside of China, scored a key win last month when Malaysian authorities granted the company a three-year license renewal for its operations in the country.

Following a lengthy back-and-forth with the Malaysian government last year — focused on waste disposal at Lynas’ Kuantuan refinery — government authorities granted the company a six-month extension of its license to operate.

Then, on Feb. 27, Lynas announced the Malaysian government had issued a three-year renewal of the company’s license to operate.

“We thank the AELB for its decision to renew the operating licence for three years,” Lynas CEO Amanda Lacaze said in a prepared statement. “This follows Lynas Malaysia’s satisfaction of the licence renewal conditions that were announced on 16 August 2019. We reaffirm the company’s commitment to our people, 97% of whom are Malaysian, and to contributing to Malaysia’s Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.

“Over the past eight years we have demonstrated that our operations are safe and that we are an excellent Foreign Direct Investor. We have created over 1,000 direct jobs, 90% of which are skilled or semi-skilled, and we spend over RM600m in the local economy each year.

“We also confirm our commitment to develop our new Cracking & Leaching facility in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. We thank the Australian Government, the Government of Japan, the Government of Western Australia and the City of Kalgoorlie Boulder for their ongoing support of our Kalgoorlie project.”

The approval came with several conditions, including:

  • Lynas beginning process of developing a Permanent Disposal Facility (PDF) within the first year from the date of approval
  • Lynas submitting a work development plan for the construction of the PDF and report on its development status as determined by the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB)
  • Ensuring the Cracking and Leaching plant outside Malaysia is in operation before July 2023, after which Lynas will no longer be allowed to import raw materials containing Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) into Malaysia
  • Holding of a financial deposit will be maintained for compliance with the conditions

Lynas revenue flat in first half of FY 2020

In addition, Lynas also recently reported its financial results for the half year ending Dec. 31, 2019.

During the period, Lynas reported revenue of $180.1 million, flat compared with the first half of the previous year ($179.8 million).

“We are pleased to receive a three year renewal of our Malaysian operating licence,” Lacaze said in the company’s earnings release. “We have worked hard to develop our assets at Mt Weld and Kuantan. Both plants now operate safely, reliably and efficiently, providing an excellent foundation for our Lynas 2025 growth plans.”

Lynas reported H1 2020 EBITDA of $44.2 million.

USGS releases 2020 Mineral Commodity Summaries report

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released its 2020 Mineral Commodity Summaries report, noting the U.S. was the second-largest producer of rare-earth-oxide equivalent.

According to USGS, global mine production reached 210,000 tons in 2019, up 11% from the previous year.

U.S. production increased 44% in 2019 to 26,000 tons, putting it behind only China in rare-earth-oxide equivalent production.

China’s production — not including undocumented production, the report notes — reached 132,000 tons, up from 120,000 tons the previous year.

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Actual metal prices and trends

The Chinese yttrium price dipped 0.8% month over month to $32.18/kg as of March 1.

Terbium oxide rose 18.9% to $604.32/kg.

Neodymium oxide rose 1.1% to $42,552.89/mt.

Europium oxide fell 0.8% to $30.04/kg. Dysprosium oxide rose 7.4% to $263.90/kg.

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