Ambition with Tungsten mine in Thai Nguyen and untold things about the mineral industry of Masan High-Tech Materials

Jul 14, 2022

During an exchange with Young Intellectuals, MHT CEO held an iPhone in his hand and said passionately: usually rechargeable batteries will be degraded after 3 years of use and its quality is no longer as good as the original. So how can these batteries work for 5-6 years? He explained that MHT’s research has found that the Tungsten coating is present in the battery and that applying high-tech Tungsten can help increase the life of the product by 5-10 times compared to current technology.

Masan High-Tech Materials (the owner and developer of Nui Phao project) is a member of Masan Group focusing on mining activities of mineral resources such as Tungsten, copper, fluorspar… supplies the world’s leading high-tech advanced Tungsten materials used in key industries such as electronics, chemicals, automotive, aerospace, energy and pharmaceuticals. At the same time, MHT is also the world’s largest manufacturer of near-deep tungsten products outside of China with 4 production bases in 4 countries and 2 R&D centers in Germany and Vietnam.

After 12 years working in the mineral industry in Australia, then moving to work in Thailand and Laos, he decided to stop in Vietnam for more than 10 years now. What made you decide to stay in Vietnam for so long?

In the previous companies I worked with had mining and production processes already in place, my responsibility was to bring about change, fine-tuning the apparatus, making the processes run smoothly and efficiently. respectable. The reason I came to Vietnam was the opportunity to be able to build something from scratch in this country in accordance with the culture and process I wanted, instead of having to go back and refine the many pre-existing processes.

Actually, in Australia, the mining industry is quite mature, so it is easy for me to find people who can understand the industry well. However, later I found that Australian workers are no longer as hard-working as before. Meanwhile in Vietnam, the workforce may lack skills and experience but they are very hardworking, enthusiastic and eager to learn.

With such people, I can help them to discover and develop themselves. I can give them experience and show them how to be a good executive, understand the technology in the industry and have a clear career path.

Having been with MHT since the first days, in your opinion, what is the biggest difficulty for the company in the process of “going out globally”?

Difficulty will change over time. I’ve been with Nui Phao since the days when everything on Thai Nguyen was primitive. At that time, I had to conduct global market research and evaluate the Vietnamese market. In addition, it is necessary to consider taxes, policies, and support from the Government.

We recognize and define clearly whether we will have to compete with companies in the US or Europe. They had the advantage of cheap capital, and interest rates were also much lower than in Vietnam at that time. Therefore, we are forced to operate at a lower cost but still be efficient.

Another challenge is that mineral deposits may run out naturally in 10 or 20 years. So, from a business that mainly relies on ore mining, we gradually switched to recycling. We are ready for this process by bringing recycling technology from Germany to Vietnam.

In the mining industry, it is impossible not to talk about the risks caused by environmental pollution. With its technology, what has MHT and will do to prevent and reduce this risk?

In fact, there are companies and businesses that do this very well, but there are also places that do not. I always try to put Masan on a good team. We develop the infrastructure that allows real-time analysis of results and put the data online on a daily basis so that anyone can track these metrics.

We always focus on air quality and make sure the readings are up to standard. If Vietnam does not have standards, then we will follow international standards.

In 2020, we have decided to acquire the German company HC Starck. This is the world’s leading manufacturer of technology metals and is leading the world market, especially in Tungsten, the material mined in Nui Phao. We see opportunity here.

Tungsten (also known as Wolfram), also denoted W, is more resistant to breakage than diamond and much harder than steel.

Tungsten’s primary application for over 100 years has been the filament in incandescent light bulbs. Because it can withstand high temperatures and has a high melting point, it is used in other high-temperature applications such as: lamps, floodlights, heating elements in electric furnaces, microwave ovens, X-ray tubes and tubes. cathode rays (CRTs) in computer monitors and televisions, cathode ray tubes, heaters, and vacuum tubes, and rocket engine nozzles that make tungsten wire, tungsten rings, etc.

Because of its relatively high electrical conductivity and chemical inertness, Tungsten is also used in making electrodes, and emission sources in electron beam generators using field-emitted guns such as electron microscope.

Tungsten is also used as metal (or molybdenum) films coated on silicon wafers to replace the conductors used in conventional electronics. In the electronics industry, tungsten metal is also used as a junction material in microchips, between transistor dielectric materials and silicon dioxide. Types of bars Tungsten, Tungsten alpha, Tungsten math…

Instead of just exporting raw materials, we can manufacture and commercialize high-tech products, providing innovative solutions that meet the needs of global customers. This is not only an opportunity for us to move up the supply chain, producing higher value products, but it also gives us access to technologies that we were not able to before. This saves us 10-20 years. This is a big jump in the company’s development plan.

We are a business that always wants to move forward, not content with the achievements of the present. Therefore, when we decided to acquire HC Starck, we had the opportunity to deliver excellent business results. More importantly, we were able to bring these cutting-edge innovations to market.

In fact, in this industry, no one is perfect and I can say that at some point, we have things that don’t go as planned. But we will find out the problem and fix it and make sure these errors don’t repeat.

Does MHT have any plans or activities to promote the recycling process in order to protect the environment?

Currently, we continuously recycle about 75% of the water throughout the plant. In addition, we buy scrap and waste from all over the world, such as Tungsten scrap, Tungsten waste to recycle into new materials because we cannot mine minerals forever. Therefore, MHT advocates developing effective recycling methods to recover minerals naturally.

We bring Tungsten scrap to Germany for initial processing. These materials will then be transported to Vietnam to complete the final steps of the recycling process. In the next 2 years, we will invest in recycling facilities to be able to completely recycle Tungsten scrap, Tungsten dust, Tungsten tools in Vietnam.

So our future is heavily focused on recycling the original materials that contain Tungsten. In addition, we are developing technologies to be able to recycle materials from batteries, cobalt, nickel, copper and minerals important to renewable energy, electrification, urbanization. By doing this, we want to be a pioneer in turning production waste into new materials.

What values ​​is MHT associated with in the Masan ecosystem? How do the core values ​​and vision of Masan Group affect the development goals and strategies of MHT?

Our core value is to innovate and create solutions for our customers. With the promises and commitments we have set, we will definitely perform, from safety work, environmental protection to added value for customers.

We always try to bring the products customers want. We are always looking for the answer to the question: what do they want, what do they need now and in the next 5 years, 10 years. We strive to ensure the best product development for our users.

I take the example of the phone we still use, the phone’s battery will degrade over time. From the first day you use it, the battery starts to degrade and after 3 years you will have to replace the phone battery because its quality is no longer good but the phone is still good. So how do we make that battery work for 5-6 years, instead of 3 years like now.

During our research, we discovered that the cathode coating made of Tungsten in the battery extends the life of the battery. It is also part of the recycling process that helps reduce waste. We use our own discarded batteries to improve the sustainability of our products.

In terms of innovation, we focus on smart technology: making our products smarter, consuming less energy, being more environmentally friendly while ensuring quality and optimizing costs. It can be said that innovation is the core of what we are trying to achieve.

In addition, we are now more inclined towards recycling than mining. Many of our products use recycled materials. This also helps mineral deposits to be able to recover and contribute to environmental protection.

What are your and MHT’s goals for the next 5 years? How does this goal approach the development vision and strategy of Masan Group?

Our research shows that this place still has many potential mines. In the next 5 years, we want to expand the mining area of ​​Nui Phao, so that we can continue to operate and develop those potential mines in the next 20-30 years.

Besides, we want to invest more in Tungsten recycling infrastructure in Vietnam by bringing technology from Germany here. By 2024, we will recycle even more, turning manufacturing waste into new materials. We want to expand not only Tungsten but also Cobalt, Copper, Lithium… From there we can diversify products for customers.

In addition, we are developing advanced technology products associated with the customer’s brand. We see that this is a growing industry with increasing demand in the field of mineral extraction for the military, aviation – space, automotive, and renewable energy industries. The world economy will have ups and downs, but the demand for Tungsten and advanced materials from global industries is always present.

Thank you, sir!

Source: Vietnam Posts English