Vietnam's largest rare earth mine to open

By Gia Chinh   October 4, 2023 | 06:08 pm PT
Vietnam's largest rare earth mine to open
A man points to the area of Dong Pao rare earth mine in Lai Chau Province in northern Vietnam, December 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Chinh
A rare earth mine in northern Lai Chau Province spanning over 132 ha, the largest of its kind in Vietnam, will finally be mined 10 years after gaining approval.

An auction for the mining of the Dong Pao rare earth mine is being planned by Australian mining company Blackstone Minerals, said Luu Anh Tuan, director of Vietnam Rare Earth JSC (VTRE).

"Right after the auction succeeds, we will use ores from the mine and the mines will be approved for production," Tuan said.

VTRE's plan is to cooperate with Blackstone Minerals to operate the mine in accordance with international standards and Europe's environmental certificates.

Tuan said the trial of rare earth materials on small-scale assembly chains would be carried out, as would the training experts for the factory to turn ores into rare earth products so they could be sent to a factory for separation in 2024.

A representative of the Lai Chau Vimico Rare Earth JSC, which manages the mine, said teams had been doing field surveys and would soon collect samples for testing.

"Right now, parties have yet to have any specific agreements. This task would be carried out in the future," the representative said.

There are 17 rare earth elements that play irreplaceable roles in the production of several high-tech products, including batteries and magnets for several industries.

A 2022 report by the U.S. Geological Survey revealed that China had the largest reserve of rare earth metals at 44 million tons, followed by Vietnam at 22 million tons and Brazil at 21 million tons.

Over three decades, China has mined and exported the largest amounts of rare earth metals to the rest of the world, accounting for 80% of the world's rare earth production.

In 2010, when the country began to restrict the mining and exporting of the elements, rare earth metals were sought out in all corners of the world.

In December 2014, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment approved the Lai Chau Vimico Rare Earth JSC and its Japanese partner to mine Dong Pao.

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