Malaysia to monitor Aussie rare earths plant

Malaysian authorities sought Friday to quell protests over its move to approve an Australian mining company's rare earths plant by pledging to appoint an independent monitor to review the project safety and to closely scrutinize its production.

The Atomic Energy Licensing Board on Wednesday granted Lynas Corp. a two-year license to operate the first rare earths plant outside China in years. Malaysia hopes the $230 million plant will spur growth, but it has been the subject of heated protests over health and environmental risks posed by potential leaks of radioactive waste.

The board's director-general, Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, said an independent panel would be appointed this month to scrutinize plant safety when production begins.

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