Australian Lynas Delighted over Falling Rare Earths Prices

The current slump in the global prices of rare earth metals ( REM ) is a more than open indication the global market is now poised for a renewed growth demand in the sector, Nicholas Curtis, chairman of Lynas Corp., explained to shareholders at its annual meeting on Wednesday.

While it is plain truth that global demand for the REM weakened due to skyrocketing prices in the year's first half, Curtis said this in fact is a healthy development for the industry.

"Since August ... there has been a substantial (fall) in rare earths prices and a consequent readjustment of equity market valuations in line with a much more sober global economic outlook," the Lynas Corp. executive said.

Prices of REM have increased fourfold this year as China, the world's stronghold of global REM as it controls 95 percent of the commodity, controlled production and imposed domestic export quota citing environmental concerns brought by mining the rare metals.

"We believe this price 'retracement' is healthy for the industry. Prices are still very satisfactory, but (are now) much more sustainable for our customers," Curtis said.

REM, comprised of 17 elements, are widely used in manufacturing of batteries of hybrid vehicles, computers, digital cameras, televisions, smartphones, in long-lasting light bulbs and serving as critical magnets in guided missiles.

Lynas Corp.'s shares climbed 3 percent to A$1.215 at the close of trading in Sydney on Wednesday.

Curtis also announced its LAMP advanced materials plant in the Malaysian region of Kuantan is almost near completion.

"We are in the final stages of the regulatory approvals process in Malaysia," Curtis said in a statement. "We have submitted all the requested documentation and the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) is now reviewing those documents ahead of making a decision."

Pending Malaysian regulatory approvals, Curtis said its Malaysian plant will be ready to receive concentrate in the first quarter of 2012.

However, Datuk Dr Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, director-general of Malaysia's AELB, clarified the pre-operational license that Lynas Corp. sent four weeks ago will take some time as it is being reviewed by an appointed panel. A decision will most likely be issued seven months later.

The rigid review aims to ensure that the three REM to be processed by the plant will not cause radiation to the public, he said.

The locals in Kuantan where the LAMP advanced materials plant is based oppose the project due to fears of radiation pollution.

In June, Lynas Corp. announced the $200-million plant would be operational by end 2011.

Malaysia's AELB said it will award Lynas Corp. the license to operate once Lynas Corp. completes addressing all 10 areas of improvement identified in an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report. The IAEA recommendations include well-laid out plans for decommissioning and remediation of radioactive waste.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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