Malaysia's highest court will not review a government decision that allows Lynas Corporation to operate a rare earths processing plant despite concerns about radioactive waste.
The High Court of Malaysia on Thursday knocked back a request for a judicial review of a decision by the nation's Atomic Energy Licensing Board in February to grant the company a temporary licence for a processing plant in Gebeng.
The board has authority over the plant because radioactive materials are naturally present in rare earths.
The radiation risk has fuelled fears among local communities, environmental groups and Malaysia's opposition party, which says it will stop the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) if elected to government.
The court noted that an appeal against the granting of the two-year licence with Malaysia's Innovation, Science and Technology Minister Maximus Ongkili was in progress and determined that it was not appropriate for the court to intervene in the matter.
Lynas said it understood that the appeal to the minister would be heard this month.
Executive chairman Nicholas Curtis said the controversy was both a concerted political campaign and an environmental activist campaign based on misinformation.
It was sabotaging the science-based, regulatory process established in Malaysia and confidence in that process, Mr Curtis said.
"A country's strict regulatory standards and investment reputation can be quickly undermined by an environmental activist campaign designed to stifle and frustrate investment by lodging vexatious legal challenges and appeals," he said.
Lynas had ticked "every safety box", but that was being ignored.
Mr Curtis also rejected comparisons between the LAMP and the controversial Bukit Merah rare earth refinery in Malaysia operated by Mitsubishi.
According to media reports from Asia, Bukit Merah closed 20 years ago, but locals are angered that the Japanese trading giant has left the plant's radioactive waste in a nearby dedicated facility.
"The Bukit Merah feedstock had radiation levels 30 times higher than the LAMP feedstock and the residue at Bukit Merah was 100 times the radiation levels of the LAMP by-product," Mr Curtis said.
"Bukit Merah would not gain approval under either international or Malaysian regulatory standards today, in contrast to the LAMP which complies with both."