Mintal Group has signed an MoU for the construction of a ferrochrome and stainless steel plant in the Nghi Son Economic Zone of Vietnam’s Thanh Hoa province, with an investment of US$2Bn. The project is being reviewed by local authorities. The first phase of the project includes a 1.5Mtpy ferrochrome plant, followed by a 1Mtpy stainless steel plant. Feed design for the ferrochrome smelter is 80% South African chromium ores blended with local Vietnamese ores to produce charge chrome.
Mintal is currently the fifth largest ferrochrome producer globally and the second largest in China. Its third-phase plant currently under construction in China’s Inner Mongolia region is set to increase the company’s domestic capacity to over 1Mtpy. Vietnam currently hosts only very minor ferrochrome capacity, but Mintal’s planned 1.5Mtpy plant would elevate the country to the fifth largest producer in terms of capacity, behind India with over 1.6Mtpy capacity (although expected to produce only 1.1-1.2Mtpy in 2019). The plant would simultaneously increase Mintal’s company-wide capacity to over 2.5Mtpy, leapfrogging ahead of current global production leader Glencore-Merafe.
The regional development of ferrochrome capacity in countries with negligible chromium ore reserves (such as China, Indonesia and now Vietnam) continues to steer the chromium industry towards bulk ore exports from major producing countries. South Africa, the previous ferrochrome hub before China took the lead, has supplied the clear majority of third-party ores to growing ferrochrome capacity in Asia, which has taken advantage of lower cost (yet lower grade) ores from the African country. South Africa’s own ferrochrome industry, meanwhile, has stagnated and faces ongoing challenges.
The stated design of the Mintal plant in Vietnam has incorporated 20% of domestic Vietnam ores, with around 21Mt of Vietnam’s reserves concentrated in the Trieu Son district of Thanh Hoa province. Mintal’s first- and second-phase ferrochrome plants in Inner Mongolia were built to a design of 50% South African ores blended with 50% higher-grade Turkish ores, but on commissioning, the plant opted for 100% South African UG2 ores for its chromium units.