HANOI, Oct. 8 (Comtex) -Vietnam is planning to test run the country's first alumina processing facility early next month, the government said in a statement over the weekend, although the project has been mired in controversy since it was initially proposed.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Le Duong Quang has asked the management of the Tan Rai project in the southern province of Lam Dong to start trial operations Nov. 1, the statement said.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the project took place in November 2008, and construction of its main facilities is almost complete, the government said, adding that 67,000 metric tons of bauxite ore will be used for the trial run.
"If the testing operations go smoothly, the project is expected to continue running at a low capacity in the near term," said Nguyen Thanh Liem, head of the aluminum and titanium division at state-run Vietnam National Coal-Mineral Industries Holding Corp., or Vinacomin. He declined to provide any figures on the forecast output for 2012 and 2013.
According to the Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper Monday, trial operation of the Tan Rai project has been delayed several times this year because the alumina facility is expected to cause Vinacomin an annual loss of at least $33 million once it becomes fully operational. Alumina is the key raw material for production of aluminum.
The newspaper also cited a government official who opposes the project as saying that the facility, which will be built at a total cost of 15.6 trillion dong ($748 million), will also cause environmental damage to the country's Central Highland region.