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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        30  June 2011

Foreign investors look at Vietnam's mining sector

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The nation's mining industry presented evidence of considerable growth potential at the Viet Nam Industrial Minerals Conference 2011, causing increased interest among foreign investors.

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Linh Ngoc said Viet Nam has significant reserves of minerals, including coal, bauxite and mineral sand, but at present the country is not thoroughly exploiting its available resources.

Tran Kim Phuong, a scientist from Viet Nam Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources, said as mineral resources were not appropriately exploited, the loss of resources in exploiting was still great, and mining still caused adverse impacts to the ecological environment.

"That's why Vietnam always wishes to strengthen cooperation with international experts and investors to more efficiently use the resources we have, while at the same time combating environmental pollution," Ngoc said.

Dominic Heaton, CEO of Masan Resources in Viet Nam, which manages a big tungsten exploiting project in northern Thai Nguyen City, said now it was the right time to invest in Viet Nam because there was a growing demand for minerals not only within the country but also around the world.

Bill Magennis, management partner of Allens Arthur Robinson law firm in Viet Nam, said the new Minerals Law that would come into effect this Friday would be welcomed by foreign investors because of favourable regulatory measures.

For example, the duration for an exploratory licence has been doubled in the new law, now allowing 48 months plus extensions not to exceed an additional 48 months.

In addition, Magennis noted that after Friday almost all exploration rights would be auctioned. Consulting manager Antonio Sequeros of Tractus Asia Viet Nam said Viet Nam had previously been perceived as a challenging destination for investment in mining, and some key issues still needed to be addressed.

"In some cases, the area limitations are too small to justify use of the latest technology. And the processing of applications and renewals should be more aligned with international practice," he said.

Vietnam now is exploiting some 38 kinds of minerals which are used for production of more 54 commodities. Value gathered from minerals and products manufacturing from minerals reach about US$25 billion last year.

According to the Statistical Yearbook, the Foreign Direct Investment in the mining sector remained small when compared to the total, accounting for approximately 5 percent in 2010. Iron, titanium and copper were the leading metals exported, though imports still outpace exports in the mining sector.

The two-day conference, which wrapped up yesterday, was held by Metal Bulletin Ltd, an international publisher and information source for the global steel market. More than 200 participants gathered for the conference from more than 11 countries.


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