How to Succeed as a Mining Company in Vietnam

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, Vietnam is host to considerable mineral wealth, whether it’s nickel, copper, zinc, iron, titanium, oil and gas. Now that that government is starting to modernise the country’s mining industry, we’ve begun to notice increased interest in this region from the international mining community.

It won’t surprise you to hear that this interest has been accompanied by some pretty strong curiosity from other mining executives regarding AMR’s success. Specifically, how we have succeeded in establishing such a strong and reliable operation here.

The fact is, you need far more than just a great exploration, development or production project to make it in Vietnam. Now, I’ll admit there’s a temptation to keep the secret of our success to ourselves. After all, when you have first-mover advantage in a region that has such growth potential, you don’t necessarily want to share everything with companies that might one day become competitors. However, what’s good for Vietnam is good for us and I’d like to shed some more light onto an approach that has helped us to excel when many other western mining companies have struggled.

Community: In Vietnam, you have to go beyond typical CSR. You actually have to become part of the community around you and that’s as much a mindset as it is anything material. At AMR, the Management team, myself included, lives here in Vietnam with our families and I can tell you that it doesn’t take long to realize that the Vietnamese have a tremendous work ethic. By committing yourself to their goals and those of the local community, they in turn will commit to you.

For example, if something goes wrong with the electricity or sewage facilities at one of our local villages, we fix it. We don’t question whose responsibility it is, we just get it done. The result of this approach is not just dedicated staff but a community that wants your company to succeed and will help it to do so.

Building and investing in a national team: The Vietnamese have more than a great work ethic, they are also keen students. We run regular training sessions and workshops for AMR staff, which are all extremely well-attended. Over time, this has allowed us to build a highly skilled workforce that, to date, is now 94% Vietnamese.

Communication: Whether it’s your staff, the community or the government, clear and regular communication is vital. The relationships that we have worked hard to develop at every level in Vietnam, have been strengthened enormously through regular communication concerning company progress, community progress, government goals for the mining sector (and how we fit into them) and more.

Trust and reliability: Gaining the full support of the local community does not go unnoticed by the regional and national governments here and is a crucial component of earning the trust of the major stakeholders in Vietnam’s mining industry. The other requirement is being transparent in your business goals and following through with your stated plans.

We made it clear from the start that we would develop a nickel mine and processing facility and that we would integrate with the community to achieve it. We also clearly outlined our plans to rely heavily on Vietnam when it came to building our work force. We have made good on every goal.

Thanks to the relationships we’ve built here, as we work towards establishing Vietnam’s first nickel district, we won’t be doing it alone.

Evan Spencer, CEO of Asian Mineral Resources

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