Vietnam, Chalco sign major bauxite/alumina deal

Vietnam, Chalco sign major bauxite/alumina deal

The Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries Group, the country’s top miner, has agreed to mine bauxite and produce alumina jointly with Aluminium Corp. of China Ltd , or Chalco, a company official said on Friday.

The official gave no further details, but the Vietnamese mining group, known as Vinacomin, said in September the project would cost as much as $1.4 billion.

The agreement was signed in Hanoi on Thursday in Hanoi, the official at the group’s Bauxite and Aluminium department told Reuters.

The signing was witnessed by Chinese President Hu Jintao, Vietnam Communist Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh and State President Nguyen Minh Triet before Hu and Triet attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Hanoi this weekend.

In September, Vinacomin said the two firms planned to mine bauxite ore in the central highland province of Dak Nong to produce 1.9 million tonnes of alumina during the first phase of the project.

Bauxite is the raw material used for making alumina, a white powder for producing aluminium.

Vietnam’s bauxite ore reserves are estimated at between 5.6 billion and 8.3 billion tonnes, the world’s third-largest after Guinea and Australia and mostly unmined.

Most of the ore reserves are in the Central Highlands, Vietnam’s key coffee growing region where the mining industry has planned several bauxite projects.

Vinacomin has said it was also considering a $1-billion joint venture with U.S. aluminium producer Alcoa Inc. for a similar project in Dak Nong between 2007 and 2010.

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