Vietnam: the government wants to restart the exploitation of its largest rare earth mine
In Vietnam, the government plans to restart its largest rare earth mine in 2024. A project supported by the United States and many industrialists, who seek to reduce their dependence on Beijing, which controls 80% of the world market, vital for many strategic sectors such as automotive, smartphones or wind turbines.
Rare earth extract (illustration image). Wikipedia
By: RFI Follow
With our correspondent in Vietnam, Frédéric Noir
Deprive Americans of rare earths, and you hit their defense industry. A scenario that worries the Pentagon. And it is a very real threat: Beijing has, in fact, imposed in 2023 restrictions on the export of these metals, especially used in semiconductors.
Hanoi knows this well and seeks to become an alternative for all those who wish to circumvent Beijing's dominance. Vietnam's main asset: the country has the second largest deposit of rare earths and these remain largely untapped, investments being discouraged by the low prices set by China due to its quasi-monopoly.
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But the situation has changed, the West is worried and Hanoi has understood this. The country has announced a vast plan to produce up to two million tons of rare earths per year by 2030. Still, once extracted, rare earths must be refined. And, in this regard, Beijing has a real head start with nine tons of refined rare earths out of ten in the world. China therefore has enormous pricing power, which it does not hesitate to use to curb the emergence of competitors.
See alsoMalaysia seeks to ban exports of rare earths
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- Viet Nam
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