A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on mining and processing rare earth in northern Lai Chau province’s Tam Duong district was signed with Japan on May 17.
Lai Chau-VIMICO Rare Earth Joint Stock Co and the Japanese Dong Pao Rare Earth Development Co have agreed to join hands through two phases of the project.
The first phase is to research and set up a mine with a capacity of 10,000 tonnes a year.
The second phase is to negotiate over the establishment of a Vietnam-Japan joint venture with charter capital of at least 30 percent of the project’s total investment value.
Lai Chau Rate Earth-VIMICO director Bui Van Huyen said the MoU was the first step in co-operation between Vietnam and Japan in exploiting and processing rare earth in Dong Pao, the largest rare earth mine in Vietnam.
They would also co-operate to develop the domestic rare earth industry, he said.
Both sides undertook to use advanced technologies to exploit the mine, protect the environment, assure people’s rights and pay full taxes to Vietnam.
They committed to assuring project information security and not negotiating or arranging with any third party to develop the project without written approval of the other side.
Industry insiders say rare earth is among precious minerals and is available in only a few countries in the world. It is used in many hi-tech industries in a variety of areas including food, health care, electronics, automobiles, batteries, magnets, radar and missiles.
In Lai Chau, there are large reserves of rare earth in Phong Tho and Tam Duong districts. The Dong Pao mine has a total area of over 11 square kilometers with a total reserve of over 5 million tonnes of rare earth oxide.
At a Vietnam-Japan summit in late 2010, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung chose Japan as the partner for co-operation in developing the domestic rare earth industry.
He signed an agreement with Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiki Noda on co-operation in this area last October.