BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, is poised to invest US$1.6 billion in Vietnam to mine for bauxite and process aluminium in the Central Highlands.
The Australian company applied for a license to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to set up a plant in Dak Nong province and submitted a preliminary plan to the ministry and provincial authorities.
A company executive said the project would be divided into two stages. In the first stage, the plant would be capable of processing 1.5 million to 2 million tonnes of bauxite. In the second, the figure would rise to 6 million tonnes.
Melbourne-based BHP Billiton opened an office in the province in November 2004. A spokeswoman said the company was also searching in Vietnam for other minerals as well, but without being more specific.
About four tonnes of bauxite is needed to make two tonnes of powdery alumina, which is smelted to about one tonne of aluminium for use in cars, planes, window frames and beverage cans.