Vietnam to halve the number of minerals legal to export

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The Ministry of Industry and Trade will cut by half the number of refined minerals legal to export to 10, from the current 22, along with upholding the tight quality standards.

The decision, decreed in Circular 41, is due to take effect on February 4.

Among the 10 minerals are bauxite and titanium.  Bauxite is used to obtain aluminum; titanium is used to make slag used in the manufacture of plastics. The minerals obtained supply most of the 5,000 mining ore sites across Vietnam.

Similar to the existing law introduced in 2008, the upcoming law makes it clear that substances that come from the allowed minerals must meet certain standards set by the industry.

For example, titanium slag must have the ratio of titanium oxide higher than 70 percent.

The refined mineral by local companies is often found with just a 50 percent ratio of titanium oxide, data from the Titanium Association of Vietnam showed.

Nguyen Manh Quan, head of the ministry's Heavy Industry Department, told Saigon Times newspaper late last year that the tight restrictions aim to bar raw minerals from exports as they do not contribute much to the national economy.

Between 2005 and 2008 - prior to the time the refined minerals law was issued, government investment into the minerals industry was the fifth-largest among Vietnam's 18 sectors.

But it ranked eighth in terms of contribution to the country, accounting for 10-11 percent of the economic growth, said a statement on the website of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The government then said that the industry was not maximizing its potential by exporting raw minerals.

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