Vietnam has set a target of mining two million metric tons of rare earths per year by 2030, according to a plan recently signed by Deputy Prime Minister Tran Hong Ha on exploring, exploiting, processing, and using natural minerals in the 2021-30 period.
As per the plan, the Southeast Asian nation will complete the exploration of two licensed rare earth mines, Bac Nam Xe and Nam Nam Xe, in Lai Chau Province, located in the northern region, by 2030.
Apart from widening licensed mines, Lai Chau, Lao Cai, and Yen Bai Provinces will see new rare earth mines explored.
Vietnam will be working to apply technologies to rare earth processing at Dong Pao and Yen Phu mines in Lai Chau and Yen Bai, respectively, while completing the construction of a rare earth processing plant in Van Yen District under Yen Bai.
The country will also invest in three hydrometallurgy projects in Lai Chau and Lao Cai Provinces, with a target of annually processing 20,000-60,000 metric tons of total rare-earth oxides (TREO) by 2030.
Vietnam plans to build rare earth refining facilities in the two provinces or other localities, with an annual capacity of 20,000-60,000 metric tons of rare-earth oxides (REO) by 2030.
The nation will develop new rare earth mines in the two northern provinces in the 2031-50 period, aside from maintaining the mining operations at the current mines.
By 2050, the nation will have widened the current mines and raised the capacity of operational projects to hike the output of TREO to 40,000-80,000 metric tons a year and the same volume for REO.
|A corner of a rare earth mine in Bao Thang District, Lao Cai Province, northern Vietnam is pictured after the exploration ended in April 2023. Photo: Quang The / Tuoi Tre|
Some metallurgy plants will be built to turn out an annual output of up to 10,000 metric tons of rare earth metals per year.
Rare earths are a group of elements that play a key role in electronics manufacturing, machine processing, the chemical industry, and farming.
Statistics from the United States Geological Survey indicate that Vietnam’s rare earth reserves accounted for 18 percent of the world’s total in 2022.
Dong Pao Mine lies idle nine years after being licensed for mining
Despite being licensed for mining in 2014, the Dong Pao rare earth mine in Lai Chau Province, which is the nation’s largest mine, has yet to be exploited.
Lai Chau Vimico Rare Earth JSC told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that poor consumption and limited technologies have hindered the exploitation at the mine.
Rare earth minerals mined from the project failed to meet export standards in line with the regulations set by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said a representative of the firm.
The General Department of Geology and Minerals of Vietnam said that Lai Chau Vimico Rare Earth JSC is working with some domestic and foreign partners to effectively mine rare earths at the Dong Pao mine.