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Malaysians protest rare earth plant on Australia Day

Published on Jan 22, 2014 9:07 PM

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - An environmentalist group on Wednesday protested outside an Australia Day function in Malaysia against a rare earth plant which it claims is producing dangerous radioactive waste, while opposition parliamentarians boycotted the event.

Australian miner Lynas Corp started processing rare earths at a plant in the eastern state of Pahang in late 2012, after a delay of more than a year due to strong opposition.

Lynas hopes the US$800 million (S$1.02 billion) plant can help break the Chinese stranglehold on the market for rare earths used in everything from missiles to mobile phones.

About two dozen activists from NGO coalition Himpunan Hijau gathered outside the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in the heart of the capital, where the Australian High Commission was holding a function with sponsorship from Lynas to celebrate Australia Day.

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