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Ministry deals with loss-making mining project in Laos
The Saigon Times Daily
Tuesday,  Apr 10, 2018,22:42 (GMT+7)

Ministry deals with loss-making mining project in Laos

The Saigon Times Daily

HCMC – The Ministry of Industry and Trade is finding ways to cope with a loss-making potassium salt mining and processing project in Laos.

Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh and Lao Minister of Energy and Mines Khammany Inthirath last week met over the project. The two ministers agreed in principle the main contents of a revised agreement on energy and mining cooperation between the two countries so that they would report to their governments for approval.

The agreement is expected to pave the way for long-term partnership, news website VnExpress reports.

The agreement includes a list of Lao power projects to supply electricity for Vietnam and a plan to transmit electricity from Laos to Vietnam, as well as a mechanism for the two sides to negotiate electricity pricing.

The two sides agreed to further support the State-owned Vietnam National Chemical Group (Vinachem) in the potassium salt mining and processing project.

Trade Minister Anh said his ministry has been scrutinizing the project. “We will come up with a specific plan soon. Upon completion of this procedure, we will send a notice to your government,” he said.

The potassium mining project in Laos began in 2015 with the main investor being Vinachem, a State-owned enterprise under the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The plant, with a designed capacity of around 320,000 tons of potash a year, was expected to be developed in five years with a total mining area of 10 square kilometers.

It costs an estimated US$522 million, with Vinachem covering US$105 million. This is a pivotal project for Vietnam as it will help the country reduce its reliance on potash imports. However, the project has been suspended since 2017.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said at a regular Government press conference in February that the project might face losses, so the ministry has decided to suspend it as the price of potassium has dipped to US$250-300 a ton while the estimated price in the pre-feasibility study is US$500.

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