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Vietnam’s bauxite reserves may total 11 billion tonnes

Publishing Date
24 Nov 2010 12:45pm GMT
Mining Journal

Bauxite reserves in Vietnam may total 11,000Mt, enough to ensure the long-term supply to the country’s alumina industry, according to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

The reserves are located mainly in the central provinces, Dung told the National Assembly in Hanoi.

Dung’s figure may make Vietnam’s reserves the world’s largest. The US Geological Survey ranked Guinea as the top holder with 7,400Mt, while second-placed Australia has 6,200Mt, according to a January 2010 report that put third-placed Vietnam’s reserves at 2,100Mt.

“It’s generally recognised that there is a lot of bauxite in Vietnam, and it does hold great prospects for building an alumina-refining industry,” Alan Heap, global head of commodities research in Sydney for Citigroup Inc.

Aluminium has gained 13% over the past year and traded today at US$2,278/t on the London Metal Exchange. Prices may rise to US$3,000/t in 18 months as China becomes a net importer, Harbor Intelligence said in a report this month.

Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries Group, the state-owned mining company known as Vinacomin, is developing two bauxite mines, one at Nhan Co in the central Dak Nong province with Aluminum Corp of China Ltd, and the other in Tan Rai in neighboring Lam Dong province.

The Tan Rai mine may start producing commercial alumina by April, while Nhan Co will be in operation by the end of 2012, Dung said today. Duong Van Hoa, vice president of Vinacomin, had said in September that Tan Rai will produce 650,000t/y of aluminar by late 2011.

The projects have been criticised by retired General Vo Nguyen Giap because of potential environmental damage and their use of Chinese labour. Giap, who led Vietnam’s victory over the French in the 1950s, wants work halted, according to a letter published by the VietnamNet online news service last year.

“The prime minister will reconsider the continuation of the projects after further assessments of the environmental safety issues,” Dung said. Experts from Hungary are reported to have said that the technology and sludge management at Tan Rai is "modern and safe,” Dung said.

A recent spill in Hungary of red mud killed nine people. The torrent of toxic material was unleashed when a reservoir wall collapsed, and the flood eventually reached the Danube River.

Nov 24 (Bloomberg)

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