Protesters at the Lynas annual general meeting.
Shares in Australia's Lynas Corp rose 10 per cent on Thursday after the rare earths producer said it expects production to start at its long-delayed Malaysia processing plant within days.
Lynas said about 100 containers of rare earths concentrate had arrived at the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant in Kuantan and it planned to begin operations "over the coming days".
The plant has been mired in controversy, with repeated judicial challenges by locals and environmentalists worried about potential health risks.
Lynas executive chairman Nick Curtis. Photo: Rob Homer
Lynas shares rallied 10.3 per cent to $0.695, but are still well below levels above $1.50 at the start of the year.
Executive chairman Nicholas Curtis said then that the Malaysian difficulties stemmed from "political, not environmental" problems.
The company had to turn to a capital raising of $200 million last week following the legal fight in Malaysia, a move that saw its share price plummet.
The $900 million plant is the world's biggest rare earths facility outside China and was ready since May. But it has been delayed by legal challenges and the approval process.
Lynas, one of the few non-Chinese companies in the rare earths market, was granted a temporary operating licence in September by the Malaysian government.
A rare earths refinery operated by the Mitsubishi group in Perak in northern Malaysia was closed in 1992 after claims it caused birth defects and leukaemia in locals. Lynas has said that its plant is safe and complies with international standards.
Reuters with Glenda Kwek