Lynas and Malaysia
Prominent Australian company Lynas Corporation mines, processes, and brings to market rare earth elements. Lynas mines the majority of its rare earths at its Mount Weld site in Western Australia and processes them at its advanced materials plant (LAMP) in Gebeng, Malaysia. Though China has dominated the rare earths industry for decades, Lynas’ and other companies’ entry into the market creates several advantages:
Resistance to disaster: By creating rare earth processing facilities outside of China, the industry will diversify its production and gain increased protection from environmental disasters like earthquakes, typhoons, and hurricanes.
Transfer of technical knowledge: The establishment of rare earth processing facilities outside of China will facilitate the flow of information from country to country. Furthermore, it will encourage research and development operations outside of China, which will improve the efficiency with which rare earths are reused and recycled.
Lynas Corporation established itself as a major provider of rare earth elements after opening its Mount Weld Concentration Plant in Western Australia. With the creation of the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant in Gebeng, Lynas Malaysia has cemented this standing. Although China controls some 90 percent of the global rare earths supply and 95 percent of all processing capabilities, companies such as Lynas have begun to create competitive supply chains.
Since rare earths occur in secondary minerals and not on their own in concentrated amounts, a more intensive process is required to extract and refine them. The rare earths supply chain begins with mining and milling operations, which extract the minerals from the ground and grind and separate out viable deposits. An aqueous solution is then used to produce mixed rare earth oxides, which are then separated and purified into individual rare earth oxides. Finally, processing facilities will refine the elements to meet industry specifications and market them to manufacturers. The rare earths will ultimately be used in products such as consumer electronics, hybrid car batteries, and energy-efficient lighting.
A leading provider of rare earth elements, Lynas operates a concentration plant in Western Australia, and more recently, Lynas Malaysia opened an advanced materials processing plant in Gebeng. In recent years, the company has established strategic partnerships with several prominent corporations that have facilitated the improvement of its global supply chain.
Sojitz Corporation: In late 2010, Lynas partnered with this commodities trading firm, which will receive 8500 tons/year +/- 500tons. The partnership allows Lynas to distribute its products in Japanese markets and opened the door for the construction of its processing facility in Malaysia.
BASF Corporation: In September 2011, Lynas agreed to supply BASF with the rare earth element lanthanum, an important component in the company’s fluid catalytic cracking refinery catalysts.
Siemens: In mid-2011, Siemens Drive Technologies Division issued a letter of intent to create a joint venture with Lynas to develop production facilities for neodymium rare earth magnets.
Recognizing an impending shortage of rare earths, Lynas Corporation is currently developing a new mine in Australia and processing plant in Malaysia. Rare earths have played a crucial role in the development of modern digital and green technologies. Scientists now see a new future for a phosphate associated with rare earths in nuclear technology. At present, nuclear researchers use uranium, which they could replace with the rare earth byproduct thorium.
The production of thorium results in much less dangerous waste and survives for significantly less time than uranium, which reduces the threat of weapons proliferation currently facing the world. Thorium most commonly occurs in monazite, a mineral with 15 various rare earths. Thus, the refining process produces monazite as a byproduct. At present, companies like Lynas Corporation must store monazite because of its radioactive nature, but the market for the phosphate may soon grow as scientists begin developing its nuclear potential. For more information about rare earths and their mining, visit LynasCorp.com.
Lynas Corporation will soon become one of the major rare earth suppliers in the world when it assumes operation later this year. In addition to rare earths, Lynas Corporation also plans to supply companies with several different synthetic mineral products that will encourage sustainability and responsible production. These synthetic products allow the company to reduce its own waste while providing unique materials for the market.
One of these materials, synthetic gypsum, will significantly reduce the need to mine gypsum and thus cut greenhouse gas emissions. Another product, iron phosphogypsum, replaces sands and other aggregates used in concrete and road construction. Iron phosphogypsum reduces reliance on granite mining for construction materials. A third synthetic material is magnesium-rich synthetic gypsum, a product of neutralizing acids produced during rare earth refinement. This byproduct holds potential as a rich source of nutrients for soil. The material could also significantly reduce the transport of contaminants to surface water.
Individuals interested in learning more about these synthetic materials and their potential applications and benefits for the environment should visit LynasCorp.com.
Based in Sydney, Lynas Corporation Ltd. is emerging as a major source of mine-to-marketplace rare earth elements to meet the increasing global demand for high-technology goods. The company and its subsidiary firm, Lynas Malaysia Sdn. Bhd., concentrate on meeting all applicable local and international protocols for employee safety and environmental responsibility in the operation of its advanced materials processing plant. This plant was recently completed in the Gebeng industrial park in Malaysia.
In recent video interviews posted on Lynas Corporation’s YouTube channel, managers, scientists, laboratory technicians, and safety reviewers discuss the firm’s resolve to cause no harm to the local environment. Plant managers who are longtime residents in the Gebeng and nearby Kuantan areas offer insights about Lynas Malaysia’s commitment to putting worker safety and environmental quality at the head of the corporate agenda. A senior chemist describes his sense of having earned his company’s trust and respect as he focuses on new experiments with the potential to increase production quality. And a radiological safety expert discusses adherence to safety and health standards in the processing cycle.
Lynas Corporation is committed to partnering with local communities and the Malaysian government to prioritize social responsibility and public health as it strives to create new economic opportunities for Gebeng area residents.
A Backgrounder Prepared by the Staff of Lynas Corporation
With an atomic number of 68, erbium holds a place in the lanthanide series of rare earth elements, so named because of the challenge involved in mining them from their compound sources. Today, such elements play an essential role in a variety of manufacturing applications in the computer science, communications, green energy, and other industries.
Usually gray-silver, erbium can produce pink or red tints in a select number of processes. After absorption of infrared light places it into a high-energy state, erbium emits photons of a wavelength ideal for transmitting signals in fiber-optic material, thus making it a major player in the telecommunications industry. Optical lenses also employ compounds of erbium to achieve pinkish coloring, and manufacturers of synthetic gemstones value the element for its ability to combine with zirconia to create pink-colored stones for fashion jewelry. Lasers used by dermatologists to perform skin-resurfacing and cosmetic treatments also rely on the element. In addition to its application in a wide range of consumer products, erbium plays a vital role within the nuclear power-generating industry.
A leader among emerging businesses in the global rare earth mining-to-market industry, Lynas Corporation operates out of its headquarters in Australia and maintains a new advanced materials plant in Malaysia.
Multifaceted rare earth mining company Lynas Corporation, based in Sydney, understands that an investment in sustainability is an investment in its own future. Currently on its way to becoming a significant force in the rare earths industry through its mine-to-market operations, the company maintains a commitment to environmentally sustainable practices.
Responsible and sustainable practices promote corporate innovation and fuel future growth, as many large companies have discovered.
Companies have traditionally distinguished themselves from competitors by the degree to which they have embraced responsible practices. Employees, customers, and shareholders are becoming increasingly attuned to the sustainability of their companies’ environmental practices, and social media provide instant and worldwide communication of those concerns, with consequences for a company’s long-term branding and image. Business executives know that transparency rules today’s markets and that they must ensure responsible behavior at every point of the supply chain.
Lynas Corporation recently devoted an entire year to environmental impact surveys at its Malaysian processing plant. The company displays a track record of meeting and exceeding national and international regulatory expectations and responding to community concerns, practices it regards as both displaying good corporate citizenship and driving its future market reach.