Jitendra Singh says India is not reliant on China for accessing rare earth minerals
New Delhi: Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh on Wednesday said that India is not reliant on China for accessing rare earth minerals.
In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Dr Jitendra Singh said, in India, capacity and capabilities in terms of mining, processing, extraction, refining and production of high pure RE oxides is adequately available.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, the production of Monazite the primary source of rare earth mineral in India is around 4000 MT per annum.
Though IREL(India) Limited, formerly India Rare Earths Limited has installed capacity to process about 10,000 MT of rare earth bearing mineral, the production is capped on account of non-grant of mining leases, environment clearance, CRZ clearance from MoEF & CC, Consent to Operate, restrictions on account of Forest and uncontrolled inhabitation etc.
As on September, 2022, Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) has established:
13.07 million tonnes in-situ monazite (containing ~55-60% total Rare Earth Elements oxide) resource occurring in the coastal beach placer sands in parts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat and in the inland placers in parts of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
7,37,283 tonne Rare Earth Elements Oxide (REO) in Ambadungar area, Chhota Udepur district, Gujarat 36,945 tonnes REO in Bhatikhera area, Barmer district, Rajasthan 2,000 tonne of heavy mineral concentrate containing ~2% xenotime (a phosphate mineral of yttrium and rare earth elements) in the riverine placer deposits of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
Presently, AMD is carrying out collection of xenotime bearing heavy mineral concentrate in the unit established in Chhattisgarh and has a stockpile of 97.688 tonnes xenotime bearing heavy mineral concentrate.
Further, Geological Survey of India (GSI) carries out mapping and exploration activities for various mineral commodities including Rare Earth Element (REE) and Rare Metal (RM) in different parts of the country with an aim to find out potential mineralized locales as well as to augment mineral resource.
As regards production, capacity and capabilities in terms of mining, processing, extraction, refining and production of high pure RE oxides is adequately available in India.
RE in the form of oxides/ compounds, duly liberated from radioactivity is available for all including the private sector since 1950. As regards developing rare earth value chain, a Rare Earth Theme Park is being setup which will upscale the scientific principles proven at laboratory to pilot scale and demonstrate the same to aspiring Industries willing to set up commercial operations. Besides, the Theme Park will also undertake skill development activities to develop the workforce of future.
Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), a constituent unit of DAE is carrying out exploration to augment resources of Rare Earth Elements (REE) along the coastal / inland / riverine placer sands of the country for augmentation of Heavy Minerals resource, which includes monazite (a mineral of REE and thorium) and xenotime (a mineral of REE and yttrium) as well as in several potential geological domains (hard rocks) of the country. well as in several potential geological domains (hard rocks) of the country.