Beach sand mineral (BSM) industry has sought the exclusion of some minerals from the atomic minerals list in the MMDR Act, saying the move will help create jobs and lead to big forex earnings.
It said that excluding ilmenite, rutile, leucoxene and zircon, used in ceramics and hi-tech applications, from atomic minerals list of the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, 2015 will create about 5 lakh jobs and around USD 1.8 billion in foreign exchange earnings.
"They are not used in atomic energy production and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) de-listed them from the list of prescribed substances with effect from January 1, 2007. But they have not been de-listed from the MMDR Act," VV Minerals Managing Director S Vaikundarajan told PTI.
"Hence, we met Mines Secretary Balvinder Kumar recently to request to him to remove ilmenite, rutile, leucoxene and zircon from the list of atomic minerals in the MMDR Act," he added.
"Such a step has the potential to direct and indirect employment for 5 lakh people and forex earnings to the tune of USD 1.8 billion in the four states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Gujarat," Vaikundarajan.
Another issue that the industry raised was that of Monazite, which contains 0.35 per cent of Uranium and 6-10 per cent of Thorium.
"We urged the government to allow BSM producers to process Monazite, with essential control exercised by the DEA and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. The industry can give the Uranium and Thorium to the government and sell the rare earths, which will generate employment and forex," he said.
Monazite, a mineral of Thorium and Rare Earth Element (REE) is the only commercial source of Rare Earths in the country at present.
Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMDER), part of DAE carries out exploration, establishment and development of atomic minerals in the country, including Monazite.
Indian Rare Earths, a PSU controlled by DAE, processes Monazite at its Rare Earths Division in Kerala. IREL has been processing Monazite to produce Rare Earths compounds, but in 2004 this was stopped due to lack of market, as materials became available at a much lower cost.