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Tensions rise as Malaysian Environment Minister cancels visit to Australia

Malaysian Environment Minister, Yeo Bee Yin, has held off on a planned trip to Australia, as waste remains a contentious issue between the two nations.

Yeo, who had a scheduled meeting with Australian Environment Minister Sussan Ley on June 19, canned the meeting after reports the Federal government and Western Australia government indicated they would not take back 450,000 tonnes of low-level radioactive by-product.

The meeting aimed to solve issues such as the management of waste from Australian rare earth metals producer Lynas Corporation’s processing plant in Malaysia.

In May, Lynas had indicated it would move initial ore processes out of Malaysia, which was welcomed by the Malaysian government.

The metals producer revealed it intended to build an ore processing plant in Western Australia.

Malaysia also recently cracked down on plastic waste coming into the country from nations such as Australia – announcing in May it would ship 450 metric tonnes of contaminated plastic waste back to the countries it came from, including Australia.