12th Rare Earth Summit

May 27-28, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

11th Aluminum Raw Materials Summit

May 20-21, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

9th Magnesium Summit

April 15-16, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

13th World InBiGeGa Forum

March 25-26, 2021
Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

7th World Antimony Forum

June 13-14, 2019
Changsha, Hunan, China

7th Refractory & Abrasive Materials Summit 2019

May 23-24, 2019
Qingdao, Shandong, China

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May 16-17, 2019
Zhengzhou, Henan, China

11th Rare Earth Summit

May 9-10, 2019
Qingdao, Shandong, China

8th Magnesium Summit

April 11-12, 2019
Zhuhai, Guangdong, China

12th World InBiGeGa Forum

March 14-15, 2019
Zhuhai, Guangdong, China

6th World Manganese & Selenium Forum

May 21-22, 2018
Hainan Sanya, China
Le Vinh Thieu: China remains the best market for exporting titanium and zirconium products for Vietnamese enterprises
----Interview with Le Vinh Thieu, Managing Director of Quangtri Minerals Joint Stock Company (QMC)
Quangtri Minerals Joint Stock Company (QMC) was founded in 1995 to process titanium ore and sell in both Vietnamese and foreign markets. It currently has two processing lines; each for zirconium flour grinding and ilmenite reduction facility.

Asian Metal: First, thanks for your time for granting this interview, and would you please introduce your company briefly and your main products and target markets?

Le Vinh Thieu: Quangtri Minerals Joint Stock Company (QMC) has 18 years experience in mining and processing titanium sand ore. Our company has been issued exploitation license over an area of 200 hectares titanium mining site, and preparing documents to apply more 200 hectares. Besides our mining and concentrating lines, we have 2 processing lines: zirconium flour grinding factory with capacity of 5,000 tons/year, and ilmenite reduction factory with capacity of 20,000 tons annual.
In addition to providing materials (ilmenite reduction, zirconium flour, rutile 82-95%) for domestic companies, our main market is China, and expanding the business to Japan, China, Ukraine, and Turkey.

Asian Metal: Recently, there have been talks of uncertainty surrounding the export of titanium ore, ilmenite from Vietnam. How do you evaluate the situation in the last 3-6months and what is the likely outcome of the government’s new policy on titanium ore export?

Le Vinh Thieu: Within several months, Vietnam export amount of ilmenite and other raw materials has seriously fallen down. The main reason does not belong to Vietnam government’s policy but because the price has significantly declined. Miners and traders see their ability of loss so that they reduce their mining activity. Some traders still keep their goods in store waiting for higher price. The overall view of Vietnam mining industry this year is rather gloomy.
In this situation, Vietnam government might consider to adjust export tax for several items to solve the problem of high inventory but could not sales because price is low.

Asian Metal: Given the fact that there are only few processing facilities in Vietnam at the moment, do you think the suspension or stoppage of the issuance of new export license for titanium ore and allied raw material could be sustained as this mining activity creates employment in the mining sector?

Le Vinh Thieu: Vietnam government will implement the close of exporting raw material especially titanium ore, it is almost certainly. This policy belongs to mineral development strategy of Vietnam Communist Party and strongly supported by Parliament. However the close of exporting raw titanium ore will affect to revenue as well as employment of almost Vietnam mineral industry.
The overall view could be considered as above, but actually it does not affect too much to professional titanium production companies in Vietnam. The reasons are:
- Since 1980s, titanium mining industry began to develop in Vietnam with some state’s own enterprises. These enterprises were preferential issued best mining site with advantage policy so that they have steadily developed over time. Until now, besides owning best mining site (wide area, rich concentration, low cost), these enterprises have invested deep processing line with suitable capacity to export their processed products. The policy to stop exporting raw ore almost does not affect these enterprises.
- Some companies recently invested in deep processing area but they don’t have their own mine or their mine is poor so that they had to buy domestic ore with high price equivalent to export price. The policy to stop exporting raw material is good for these companies because if the policy is implemented, they could buy domestic ore with lower price.
- Other newly established companies have active business: They work and collect money from poor titanium mine and ore tails, they don’t want to invest in long term. Low price and the stoppage of exporting raw material policy will strongly affect to survival of these companies.

Asian Metal: And looking at the current numerous challenges facing titanium and zircon sector, who do you expect mine owners and entrepreneurs to do to attract investors either on partnership basis or on leasehold?

Le Vinh Thieu: In the difficult period when titanium mining industry is suffering currently and future, I think that the following actions should be taken in consideration:
- Lessen mining activity on over country area. Only exploit rich mines with low cost, together with deep processing.
- Cooperate to invest titanium slag and synthetic rutile factories in Vietnam (take advantage of low input price because government will close export raw material).
- Upgrade technology for titanium slag factories which have been invested to raise product quality, lower price, produce competing strength for this product on international market.

Asian Metal: Miners and traders talk more about adding value to ilmenite export, what is the current situation on ‘ilmenite reduction’ or what is called ‘reduction ilmenite’ as the processing facilities in Vietnam is not well developed?

Le Vinh Thieu: Reduced ilmenite (or so call Reduced titanium) is a deep processing product in titanium development strategy which is given preferential attention by Vietnam government. Differ from titanium slag and synthetic rutiles which are widely consumed all over the world, reduced ilmenite is mainly used in domestic and Chinese welding industry.
Almost welding factories in Vietnam use our product, but they only consume about 30% our output. The remaining is exported. When our product is sent to our foreign customers, its price includes Vietnam export tax, foreigner import tax and high transportation cost.
Therefore, we could not conclude that reduced ilmenite is not developed in Vietnam. The reason is that the titanium market is not good right now. If the market runs better, we could invest to double our output capacity after only 1 year.

Asian Metal: Do you any positive trajectory for the development of processing facilities in the next 12-24months as investors might want clear and predictable policy pronouncement?

Le Vinh Thieu: I think that within next 12-24 months, with current Vietnam government policy and gloomy titanium market; there will not be any deep processing plant investing in Vietnam, except upgrading activities for current manufacture lines up to suitable technology and capacity.

Asian Metal: Do you think the government could renew export license and issue new export quotas for the coming year and which province could be mostly affected if the new policy is carried out?

Le Vinh Thieu: I do not hope that Vietnam government would extend export raw titanium license and issue new export quotas for the next year. This is because Vietnam government has extended the license too many times since the government declared to end export of raw titanium to invest deep processing plants.

Asian Metal: What is your overall view of the export of ilmenite and zircon to China in terms of volume and price? And do you target other markets like Japan and Europe?

Le Vinh Thieu: I think that China is the best market for exporting titanium and zirconium products for Vietnam enterprises. I can list some advantages why China remains the main market in future as per following:
- Chinese demand is huge.
- China buyers are willing to buy products with many grades of standard, it’s not a selective market.
- Favorable transportation because of proximity between producing country, Vietnam and the main consuming market, China
- Favorable payment conditions. Chinese traders appreciate prestige, quick transfer payment before delivering goods and do not usually make unnecessary complaints on goods quality.
- Chinese traders usually offer technical support if necessary whenever Vietnamese companies encounter problems.
- Customs and business morality of Chinese are similar to Vietnamese.
Our company has worked many times with Japanese and Western companies but their demand is not big like Chinese. Although the price is higher procedure in signing contracts and delivering cargoes is rather complicated and rigid. However we always accept any chance to cooperate to all customers to maintain our interest and development.
Thank you for your enthusiasm to listen to our assessment and sharing!