Vietnam's state coal and mineral group Vinacomin may start selling alumina product next month during its test-run of the country's first alumina plant, a senior executive said on Thursday.
"We will strive to keep the test-run period as short as possible and bring the plant to full capacity," Chairman Tran Xuan Hoa of the National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin) said on the sidelines of an energy conference.
Hoa said Hanoi-based Vinacomin would operate at 70-80 per cent of the Tan Rai plant's capacity during the test-run. The $460-million facility has a designed capacity of 600,000 tonnes a year, he said.
Up to 99 per cent of the Tan Rai plant has been completed, state media has reported, but construction has been delayed because of rain and incomplete administrative procedures, which in turn slowed the funding process, Hoa said.
Production at the plant in the central highland province of Lam Dong had initially been scheduled to start in the last quarter of 2011.
"Prolonged rains made it difficult for building the red mud reservoir, while procedures that our Chinese contractor failed to complete on time has delayed our disbursement, which finally delayed the construction," he said.
The Tan Rai plant is built by China Aluminum International Engineering Co (Chalieco), a subsidiary of state-owned Aluminum Corp of China, or Chinalco, the country's top aluminium producer.
Vinacomin plans to raise 3 trillion dong ($143.8 million) via domestic dong-denominated bonds this year to finance projects, including the alumina plant, while keeping an overseas bond issue on hold, Hoa said.
He did not give a date for the dong bond issue.
The group, which is also Vietnam's top coal producer, has been developing the Nhan Co alumina project in the province of Dak Nong, with projected initial output of 300,000 tonnes in 2014, which could be raised to 650,000 tonnes by 2016.
Vinacomin has forecast Tan Rai's alumina output at 300,000 tonnes this year, rising to 500,000 tonnes in 2013 and 650,000 tonnes in 2014.
Vinacomin and China's Yunnan Metallurgical Group have a memorandum of understanding under which the Vietnamese firm has agreed to sell 600,000-900,000 tonnes of alumina a year to Yunnan Metallurgical, which plans to supply the alumina to its smelter, Yunnan Aluminium Industry Co Ltd.
Hoa said the group had not fixed any contract with foreign partners, although China would be its largest market.
"We are just in negotiations with partners and we have received much interest from them," he said.
Alumina is a white powder made from bauxite ore that is used to produce aluminium. ($1=20,860 dong).