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Malaysia Rare Earths in Largest Would-Be Refinery Incite Protest

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On a sweltering Sunday in April, more than 300 people pack a room above GC Curry House, a popular eatery on a tree-lined avenue in Kuantan on Malaysia’s east coast. They’re here to discuss the potential hazards of a rare-earth refinery Sydney-based Lynas Corp. is building about 25 kilometers away that will process radioactive ore into the exotic metals that go into tech gadgets, hybrid cars and weapon systems.

Member of Parliament Fuziah Salleh tells the residents that the Australian company got a 12-year tax break from Malaysia even as other countries would shun the plant -- set to be the world’s largest rare-earth refinery -- because of the health risks it poses. That information draws boos from the crowd.