Vietnam had a wide variety of important mineral resources, but the mining sector was relatively small and undeveloped. The principal reserves, located mainly in the north, were antimony, bauxite, carbonate rocks, chrome, clays, anthracite coal, copper, natural gas, gemstones, gold, graphite, iron ore, lead, manganese, mica, nickel, crude petroleum, phosphate rock (apatite), pyrophyllite, rare earths, silica sand, tin, titanium, tungsten, zinc, and zirconium. Coal dominated the mining sector, and, along with carbonate rocks, crude petroleum, and phosphate rocks, was produced in large quantity. Iron reserves were estimated at 520 million tons, and apatite reserves, 1.7 billion tons. Bauxite mines in the Central Highlands Province (Lam Dong) were capable of producing 1.7 million tons per year of ore. Mining was Vietnam's fourth-leading industry in 2002; mining and quarrying contributed 6.6% to GDP, 91.2% of which came from oil, gas, and coal. Also among leading industries were the production of cement, chemical fertilizer, oil, coal, and steel; crude oil was its top export commodity. Vietnam's movement toward a free market has resulted in increased international trade.
Production outputs in 2001 included chromium ore (gross weight), 60,000 tons, up from 51,000 in 1997; ilmenite, 145,000 tons, up from 109,000 in 2000 and 50,000 in 1997 (90% was exported, mostly to Japan, and resources totaled 15 million tons of ore); zinc, 36,000 tons, up from 18,000 in 1999; tin, 3,500 tons, down from 4,800 in 1997; gold, 2,000 kg, up from 1,000 in 1997; lime, 1.03 million tons; and silica sand, 62 million tons, up from 20 million tons in 1997. Vietnam also produced barite, bauxite, bentonite, hydraulic cement, chromium, kaolin clay, refractory clay, construction aggregates, copper, fluorspar, gemstones, granite, graphite, ilmenite, iron ore, lead, lime, marble, nitrogen, phosphate rock, pyrite, pyrophyllite, rare earths, salt, silica sand, sulfur, building stone, and zirconium. Most chromite, ilmenite, and zirconium, and some granite, kaolin, salt, and silica sand, was exported. No tungsten was produced in 1998–2001. Asian Mineral Resources started two diamond drilling programs at nickel deposits. The mining industry comprised state-owned companies, several state-and-foreign mining and mineral-processing company joint ventures, many small-scale local government-owned mining companies, local government–private mining company joint ventures, and local private miners.