Japanese auto major Toyota Motor Corporation has evinced interest in setting up a processing plant for rare earth chloride, one of the intermediate products of monazite.
The auto major is in advanced stage of negotiations with Orissa Sands Complex (OSCOM), a unit of Indian Rare Earths Ltd, for setting up the plant near OSCOM's site at Matikahal, near Chhatrapur, about 30 km from here. The capacity of the proposed plant and the investment figure are yet to be worked out.
The rare earth metals used in manufacturing several electronics items, magnet and automobile tools are in high demand in the international markets.The officials of IREL have anticipated several other companies to come forward to set up their plants to process the individual rare earths in the area.
It may be noted that OSCOM is setting up a 10 million tonne per annum monazite processing plant within its existing unit in Orissa.
Though the total investment for this plant was approved at Rs 90 crore in the 11th Plan, the expenditure on the plant is expected to be increased due to the cost of escalation in the construction materials, sources said. “We are in process of getting the environmental clearance for the proposed plant from the Union ministry of environment and forests. No displacement or land acquisition will be needed for the setting up of the proposed monazite plant”, D N Mohanty, chief of OSCOM told Business Standard.
The monazite processing plant is expected to start production from next year. Presently the Mining and Mineral Separation (MMS) plant of OSCOM is producing ilmenite and associated minerals by processing the rare earth minerals which are abundant in the Ganjam coast. The present capacity of the MMS plant of OSCOM is 2,20,000 tonnes per annum and the capacity utilization of the plant is almost 100 per cent.