Indian Rare Earths Ltd. Seeks Permission For Rare Earth Mining

Government-owned Indian Rare Earths Ltd. (IREL) has applied for approval from the Odisha state government for rare earth mining on a coastal stretch, reports Business Standard.

All rare earth prices tracked by the MetalMiner IndX℠ did not move on the weekly Rare Earths MMI® price index this week.

The newspaper report quoted chairman-cum-managing director of IREL, R.N. Patraas, saying that they have submitted an application to the Odisha government seeking a prospective license for rare earth mining in the coastal areas of Bramhagiri in Puri district.

According to the report, the company seeks mining rights on an area of more than 2,500 hectares.

The Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMDER) in Hyderabad, in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, which falls under India’s Department for Atomic Energy (DAE), has conducted surveys that show large deposits of rare earth minerals in the coastal stretch of Puri.

The identified area is the second coastal stretch in Odisha, where deposits of rare earth minerals have been found. IREL is already harnessing rare earth deposits over a nearly 25 square-kilometer area in the Ganjam district through its subsidiary Odisha Sands Complex (OSCOM).

According to the Business Standard report, OSCOM is producing heavy minerals like ilmenite, rutile, zircon, silimanite, garnet and monazite from beach sands, which are used in manufacturing white pigment, ceramics, TV tubes, and in polishing glass — and are also in high demand on the international market.

According to the information available on the company’s website, on Aug. 18, 1950, IREL was incorporated as a private limited company, jointly owned by the Indian government and that of Travancore, Cochin.

After becoming a full-fledged Central Government Undertaking in 1963 under the administrative control of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), IREL took over a number of private companies engaged in mining and separation of beach sand minerals in the southern part of the country, and established two more divisions: one at Chavara, Kerala and the other at Manavalakurichi (MK), Tamil Nadu, according to the site.

The information on the company’s website further says that after a gap of about 20 years, IREL commissioned its largest division called the Orissa Sand Complex. Today IREL operates these four units with corporate offices in Mumbai and produces and sells six heavy minerals, namely ilmenite, rutile, zircon, monazite, sillimanite and garnet as well as various value-added products.

Rare earth elements are used in many modern technological devices, including superconductors, samarium-cobalt and neodymium-iron-boron high-flux rare-earth magnets, electronic polishers, refining catalysts and hybrid car components.

Rare earth ions are used as the active ions in luminescent materials used in optoelectronics applications, most notably the Nd:YAG laser.

TC Malhotra contributes to MetalMiner from New Delhi.

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