Rare earth minerals not promising for Vietnam: expert

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Vietnam should not be too hopeful about rare earth mining as it will not bring a lot of money to the country, an expert said.

The demand for rare earth minerals is too low and raw rare earth material cannot fetch high prices, Bui Duc Thang, general secretary of the Vietnam Geology Federation, said in an interview with VnExpress on Wednesday.

Vietnam has chosen to partner with Japan in mining rare earth minerals in Vietnam, Reuters cited Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan as saying on Sunday.

Thang said Vietnam is among the ten countries with the largest rare earth reserves, so it has "great potential." But he said rare earth minerals are not "hot" commodities now as world reserves will remain for another thousand years.

"Japan doesn't have rare earth minerals so it needs Vietnam. But, its demand is not very high, estimated at only 7,000 to 10,000 tons a year," Thang said.

"If Vietnam sells 10,000 tons a year at US$8,000 per ton, it does not translate to a large amount of money," he said.

The country will earn a lot more if it sells refined mineral products, "but it's not possible for Vietnam to do so at present," Thang said. He noted that Vietnam is still conducting research on the use of rare earth minerals.

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