Government looking at giving land for rare earth sands mining

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New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) The matter of handing over land for sand mining by state-run Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) is under consideration of the central government, parliament was told on Wednesday.

“The government has received representation for handing over the land as per the agreed terms and conditions required for mining of sand by IREL, Chavara, Kollam (Kerala),” Minister of State for Atomic Energy Jitendra Singh told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

“The matter is under consideration of the government,” he said.

IREL, engaged in mining and processing of mineral sand containing radioactive elements, has two plants – a monazite processing plant at Orissa Sands Complex Chatrapur, Odisha, which extracts strategic compounds from monazite, and the Rare Earths Division (RED), Aluva, Kerala, which produces high grade rare earths.

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RED is its first unit that started commercial scale processing of monazite for the recovery of thorium, and produces six heavy minerals – ilmenite, rutile, zircon, monazite, sillimanite, and garnet.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, private producers under the banner of the Beach Minerals Producers Association appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi against the new Atomic Minerals Concession Rules (AMCR), 2016, that mandates deposites containing more than 0.75 per cent monazite content in the Total Heavy Minerals (THM) will be reserved for the public sector.

In a letter to Modi, the association said: “If the AMCR is implemented in its present form, almost all existing private players will be forced to close operations, resulting in huge losses and loss of employment to about 50,000 in backward areas of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.”

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