Australian Strategic Materials and Blackstone Minerals to cooperate with Vietnam Rare Earth Company.
Australian mining company Australian Strategic Materials, nickel producer Blackstone Minerals, also based in Australia, and Vietnamese rare earth processor Vietnam Rare Earth Company are planning to work together. A memorandum of understanding to this effect was signed at the Australian Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam.
A binding off-take agreement for rare earth oxides already exists between Australian Strategic Materials (ASM) and the Vietnam Rare Earth Company (VTRE) (we reported). The processing of raw materials originating from Vietnam is planned to take place at ASM’s processing plant, which in turn is in South Korea.
The now-signed memorandum of understanding will deepen cooperation and advance the development of a complete rare earths value chain in Vietnam, according to the press release (PDF). It offers VTRE the opportunity to use Blackstone’s processing plant, also in Vietnam, for the further processing of locally mined rare earth ores. The resulting rare earth concentrates could then be further refined at VTRE’s refinery.
Australia, rich in mineral resources, is the world’s largest producer of lithium and has established itself as an important rare earth producer outside the world market leader China. Vietnam, on the other hand, has the largest reserves of rare earths after China, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (PDF), but these have hardly been developed to date. The Southeast Asian country wants to expand this significantly and become one of the world’s largest producers. This makes Vietnam interesting for countries such as South Korea and Germany, which want to diversify their supply chains – but China is also exerting influence: For example, the Vietnam Rare Earth Company is 90 percent owned (PDF) by the Chinese group Shenghe Resources.