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Malaysia court puts Lynas rare earths license on hold: activists
Malaysia court puts Lynas rare earths plant licence on hold -activists
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A child wears a headband during a protest against the construction of Australia's Lynas Corp earths plant in Gebeng, 270 km (168 miles) east of Kuala Lumpur June 24, 2012.
KUALA LUMPUR |
Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:14am EDT
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - A Malaysian high court has put on hold for one week the temporary operating license granted to Lynas Corp Ltd's controversial rare earth plant near the eastern city of Kuantan, activists said, sending shares of the Australian firm tumbling 8 percent.
"Lynas won't be able to execute the Temporary Operating Licence for one week pending the application for a permanent stay," Tan Bun Teet, spokesman for the environmental group Save Malaysia Stop Lynas, told Reuters on Tuesday.
The Kuantan high court decision on Tuesday means the hearing for the permanent application will be held on October 4, he added.
Lynas representatives and court officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Activists want the court to suspend the temporary license until two judicial review cases challenging the government's decision allowing the plant to operate are heard.
Lynas received a temporary operating license for its long-delayed $800 million rare earths plant earlier this month, enabling it to start production as early as October.
The Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) issued the permit following an earlier recommendation from a government committee.
The rare earth plant -- the world's biggest outside China -- has been ready to fire up since early May, but the company has been embroiled in lengthy environmental and safety disputes with local residents since construction began two years ago.
Protests over possible radioactive residue have drawn thousands of people and the project has become a hot topic ahead of an election that must be held by early next year. The plant is considered important to breaking China's grip on the processing of rare earths that are used in products ranging from smartphones to hybrid cars.
Shares of Lynas closed down 8.1 percent at A$0.795, their lowest close in almost three weeks.
(Reporting By Siva Sithraputhran; Editing by Stuart Grudgings and Chris Gallagher)
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