Lynas Corp has applied to the Malaysian government for an exemption from some coronavirus-led curbs as reduced work levels drove an 18 per cent drop in the miner’s third-quarter rare earths oxides output.
The company’s Mt Weld mine in Australia has been running with only essential staff and its Malaysian processing facility went into maintenance on March 23, days after the government first announced restrictions on movement, which have been extended to April 28.
Lynas said it had applied to the government for “critical industry” status as its products are essential to the supply chains of key industries in Malaysia, including medical devices.
However, the ASX-listed company said there was no fixed timeline for obtaining the approval to resume operations.
The company, which is the world’s largest rare earths producer outside China, produced 4,465 tonnes of rare earths oxides in the quarter ended March 31, compared with 5,444 tonnes last year.
Sales revenue tumbled 10 per cent to $91.2 million.
However, strong demand from customers in Japan, Europe and the United States helped Lynas reduce reliance on China for sales of the elements used in everything from iPhones to military equipment, it said.
Only 10 per cent of the company’s quarterly separated rare earth sales was realised in China.
Production of Neodymium Praseodymium or NdPr, used to make high-strength permanent magnets found in ventilators, computers and wind turbines, fell 14 per cent to 1,369 tonnes. Demand concerns from the virus crisis have also hit NdPr prices, Lynas said.
Lynas shares were up 3.25 per cent to $1.59 at 1230 AEST on Wednesday.