Up to 99 percent of work has now been completed at the Tan Rai plant owned by the National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin), the ruling Vietnam Communist Party-run Nhan Dan (People) daily said, quoting Vinacomin.

Industry and Trade minister Vu Huy Hoang, who visited the site in the central highland province of Lam Dong in early March, had asked the alumina plant operator to test-run the facility in April, Vinacomin said on its website.

Alumina is a white powder made from bauxite ore that is used to produce aluminium.

In early December, Vinacomin said alumina production had been delayed until the first quarter of 2012 from an earlier target for the end of 2011 after rain held up construction.

Vinacomin has forecast alumina output at the $460 million Tan Rai plant at 300,000 tonnes this year, around half its projected annual capacity, ramping up to 500,000 tonnes in 2013 and 650,000 tonnes in 2014.

Vinacomin and China's Yunnan Metallurgical Group (YMG) have a 30-year deal for the Vietnamese firm to sell 600,000 to 900,000 tonnes of alumina to Yunnan Metallurgical each year to feed its smelter, Yunnan Aluminium Industry Co Ltd

Vinacomin, which is also Vietnam's top coal producer, has also been developing the Nhan Co alumina project in the neighbouring province of Dak Nong, with projected initial output of 300,000 tonnes in 2014, which could be raised to 650,000 tonnes by 2016.

Reuters - March 19, 2012