Tran Duong Le, the board’s deputy director, released the information at a meeting between the board and the provincial authorities yesterday, adding that up to 99 per cent of all the main work items of the plant, including a powerhouse, an ore selection facility, conveyor lines and pumping systems, have been completed.

Sub-works, such as the Cai Bang Lake dam, the general repair quarter, the workers’ dorms, and parking lots are also available.

If there had not been problems with a number of projects and equipment, the country's first alumina plant could have run with no load sooner – within this month, Le said.

The contractor of the plant, China Aluminum International Engineering Co. (Chalieco), a subsidiary of state-owned Aluminum Corp of China, or Chinalco, said it has accelerated repairs so that the plant can operate next month.

The National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin), which owns the plant, has forecast Tan Rai's alumina output at 300,000 tonnes this year, increasing to 500,000 tonnes in 2013 and 650,000 tonnes in 2014.

Alumina is a white granular material, a little finer than table salt, and is properly called aluminum oxide, which is used to produce aluminum.

Vinacomin and China's Yunnan Metallurgical Group have entered into a memorandum of understanding, under which the former has agreed to sell 600,000-900,000 tonnes of alumina a year to the latter to feed its smelter, Yunnan Aluminum Industry Co. Ltd.

The group, which is Vietnam's top coal producer, has also been developing the Nhan Co alumina project in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong, with expected initial output of 300,000 tonnes in 2014 and 650,000 tonnes by 2016.

Vietnam Investment Review : Tuoi Tre - September 12, 2012