The Indian minister said such mining projects of IREL were located at the Orissa Sand Complex (OSCOM) at Chatrapur in the eastern state of Odisha, at Manavalakurichi in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and at Chavara in Kerala.
The minister had also mentioned that due to the limited availability of mineable land carrying raw beach sand, and the gradual decline in heavy mineral contents in the sand, the mining activities at Chavara and Manavalakurichi had declined over the years.
He had further said that there were some projects in the pipeline for capacity expansion like the one at OSCOM, and another, separated high purity rare earths project by the Rare Earth Division of IREL at Chavara, Kerala.
While Kerala has been one of the Indian states where rare earths are being traditionally mined and extracted, the details of the new plant proposed to be set up by KIOCL are yet to be revealed.
Over the past year or so, India and Japan have been cozying up to each other in REE production.
As reported in MetalMiner, India had recently agreed with Japan to jointly develop rare earths capabilities, and was also said to be watching with keen interest Japan’s prospecting for REE in the Pacific Ocean. In November 2012, Japan had signed an agreement to import 4,100 tons of rare earths on an annual basis from India.
There’s also a subsidiary of Toyota Tsusho called Toyotsu Rare Earths India Pvt. Ltd. based at Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, involved in the production of rare earths. The company operates a monazite sand rare earth production base.
The new-found alliance between Japan and India was interpreted in geo-political circles as a move to counter China’s dominance in the rare earths field.
Sohrab Darabshaw contributes an Indian perspective to MetalMiner.