Vietnam's investment ministry has licensed the Drilling Mud Corporation, a PetroVietnam affiliate, to invest in a barite (barium sulfate in mineral form) mining project in Laos.
The corporation said in a statement the investment would be made over 15 years in two stages. The two-year first stage would be a 100 percent Vietnamese implemented project to explore the mine while the other will be a 60-40 joint venture with Lao partners to process barite.
Barite is commonly used as a weighting agent for all types of drilling fluids. It is mined in many areas worldwide and shipped as ore to grinding plants in strategic locations.
The mine in Laos has reserves three times higher than expected, said the corporation. It also said product from the project would be shipped back to Vietnam for production and drilling services.
The corporation said the Vietnamese and Lao partners were in the process of applying for a license from the Lao authorities to set up the joint venture, which is scheduled to begin operations this year.