The Southeast Asian country has the second-largest reserves of rare earth elements following China and could play an important role in diversifying supply chains.
Vietnam increased rare earth mining tenfold last year, from 400 tons in 2021 to 4,300 tons in 2022. This is reported by the Reuters news agency, citing figures from the U.S. Geological Survey.
The Southeast Asian country has the second largest estimated rare earth reserves after China, the world’s leading producer of the critical commodity (210,000 tons mined in 2022). To reduce their dependence on the People’s Republic, countries such as Germany and South Korea are increasingly turning their attention to Vietnam.
However, China also appears to be a main beneficiary of the increase in production there, writes Reuters with reference to Chinese customs data. According to these, imports of rare earths and other concentrates that may contain these strategic minerals from Vietnam doubled last year to nearly 12,000 tons. In addition to its own mining, Vietnam further imports rare earth metals for further processing and re-export.
Chinese state-owned Shenghe Resources is also the major owner of Vietnam Rare Earth Company, with which Australian Strategic Materials recently signed a binding offtake agreement (we reported).
Photo: iStock/Maksim Safaniuk