Locals and activists fear the refinery, operated by an Australian company, will generate radioactive waste.

An Australia-based environmental activist faces the possibility of a two-year prison sentence, in Malaysia, after being arrested while protesting against the world’s largest rare earth refinery.

Natalie Lowrey, who was born in New Zealand and lives in Sydney, was demonstrating with a one thousand-strong throng, at the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan, Malaysia, when she was detained and imprisoned, along with 15 other protestors who have since been released. Lowrey remains in detention at the Kuantan Police Station.

Tully McIntyre, a campaigner who works with Lowrey and is currently in Malaysia, told The Diplomat that authorities were not being clear about whether charges have been laid but her colleague is being held under two laws, one relating to unlawful assembly and the other pertaining to violation of an immigration permit.

The refinery — run by Australian company Lynas Corporation Ltd  — began processing rare earth ore, mined at Mount Weld in the desert of Western Australia, and shipped to the port of Kuantan, in 2012. The project has been hampered by a diverse coalition of campaign groups that is creating hurdles, with the aim of having the plant closed down, including launching legal action to see the company’s temporary operating license revoked. That bid was unsuccessful but the rare earth venture continues to galvanize a groundswell of grass roots opposition. Read more

Courtesy: The Diplomat