Vietnam’s rare earth not attractive to industrial powers: scientist

Many countries, including Japan, once showed interest in Vietnam’s rare earth materials.

Domestic sources in recent days have predicted the possibility of Vietnam exporting rare earth to the US and other countries as China may stop exporting rare earth as retaliation against the US in the China-US trade war.

Vietnam’s rare earth not attractive to industrial powers: scientist


Nguyen Van Ban, former head of the bauxite – aluminum division of the national minerals miner Vinacomin – Minerals Corporation, said if China stops exporting rare earth to the US, the US may have to seek alternative sources, including Vietnam.

In the past, China once halted the export of rare earth to Japan in 2010 because of the political tensions related to Senkaku islands. However, the export ban did not bring the desired effects as other countries could replace China to become suppliers, while Japan found production methods that need less rare earth.

According to Ban, rare earth can be found in many countries. Besides China, which accounts for 80 percent of the global total reserves, rare earth also exists in Brazil, Canada, Australia, India, Vietnam and the US.

According to Ban, rare earth can be found in many countries. Besides China, which accounts for 80 percent of the global total reserves, rare earth also exists in Brazil, Canada, Australia, India, Vietnam and the US.

If China uses rare earth as the retaliation against the US, other suppliers will fill the gap.

Though Vietnam may have the opportunity to export rare earth to the US, an expert said Vietnam’s rare earth has some weak points.

Rare earth elements can be divided into two groups – ytri and lantan-ceri, or HREE (heavy rare earth elements) and LREE (Light Rare Earth Elements), depending on the density of ions in atoms.

 

While HREE has many functions and can be used in many hi-tech industries, Vietnam mostly has LREE.

LREE can be used in some fields. For example, it is used to make speakers. However, HREE is more preferable.

Ban went on to say that it requires high technology to exploit rare earth, especially to separate each element in rare earth.

“If the process cannot be done well, rare metals in the earth can evaporate with oxygen,” he explained, adding that only developed countries can separate these rare elements in rare earth.

If Vietnam exploits rare earth, it will only be able to export raw rare earth.

He also warnef about the possible impact on the environment if Vietnam exploits rare earth, because radioactive elements in rare earth are dangerous to workers and the environment.

Mai Thanh 

Vietnam to export rare earth minerals, faces competition with China

Vietnam to export rare earth minerals, faces competition with China

According to experts on geology and minerals, Vietnam's rare earth reserves are large, but have not been exploited effectively or exported.

 
 

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