Blackstone Minerals has signed a three-way Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Vietnam Rare Earths (VTRE) and Australian Strategic Materials (ASM) to develop a fully integrated rare earth mine-to-metals value chain in Vietnam.

VTRE owns and operates the only Vietnamese midstream rare earth refinery and is a strategic partner to develop upstream mining and processing capability.

ASM is an emerging producer of critical metals for advanced and clean technologies with an extensive understanding of the downstream processing of rare earths and the rare earth market.

Blackstone has an in-country team with experience in upstream mining and processing within the Northwest Vietnam rare earth district.

Under the MOU, VTRE and ASM have agreed to collaborate on certain initiatives, with plans to sign further binding agreements.

Blackstone and VTRE will evaluate existing licensed concessions and seek the mining licenses under a Joint Venture (JV) arrangement, with a focus on the Dong Pao Deposits.

VTRE will be granted access to Blackstone’s laboratory and piloting facilities at the Ta Khoa Nickel Project at Ban Phuc Nickel Mines.

ASM will provide technical assistance to help conduct a pilot flotation program for the beneficiation of REE concentrates from the Dong Pao deposit.

Blackstone, VTRE and ASM will explore a commercial model that can support a fully integrated mine-to-metals rare earth business.

Blackstone Minerals managing director Scott Williamson said: “It is not often that you find a potential partnership in which the strategic advantages and core competencies of each party are so complementary.

“For Blackstone, a potential move into Rare Earths in Vietnam aligns with our Technology Mineral strategy and is synergistic to our Ta Khoa Project and our existing relationships in the EV industry.

“With this MOU, Blackstone, VTRE and ASM will progress discussions with the view of potentially establishing a world-leading fully integrated rare earths business.”

According to Blackstone, Vietnam has the world’s largest REE reserves outside of China, majority of them located in the Northwest Region of Vietnam.