Respected Shri Sudhaker Shukla Ji
Distinguished co panellists and dear friends,
Minerals in general are valuable natural resources that are non-renewable. But Heavy Minerals, also referred as beach minerals are renewal natural resources. They constitute the vital raw material for many basic industries. If we fail to collect the beach minerals within reasonable time, a portion of it is taken back to the sea and transported to other places. It will be used as filling material or construction materials, thus it will become a national waste.
Mining sector being one of the core sector of the economy provide basic raw material to many industries. Not only does it contribute to GDP, it also acts as a catalyst for the growth of other core industries. Prior to 1993, the mineral sector was guided by Industrial Policy Resolution of 1953. In pursuant of the reforms initiated by Govt., of India, the first National Mineral policy was enunciated in March 1993, which liberalized in the mining sector. The National Mineral Policy recognized the need for encouraging private investment including foreign direct investment and for attracting state of art technology in the mineral sector.
Based on the National Mineral Policy, 1993, Govt., of India, Department of Atomic Energy in October 1998, notified a policy on Exploitation of Beach Sand Minerals keeping in view of the following:
- Growing demand for the minerals and/or their value added products in domestic as well as international markets.
- Potential available in the country.
- Highly capital intensive nature of production of value added products.
- Allowing private sector participation within the framework of some broad guidelines.
The objectives of the policy were:
- Maximization of value addition to the raw materials within the country.
- Upgradation of the existing process technologies to international standards.
- Attracting funds and new technology through participation of private sector, both domestic and foreign.
- Appropriate dispersal of the new production facilities with an eye on regional balance.
- Regulating the rate of exploitation of the reserves keeping in view the available mineral resources.
Until late 80’s, mining lease for garnet mining was refused to private parties pointing out that it is associated and mixed with Monazite. Thereafter with ‘No Objection Certificate’ from Atomic Energy Department, garnet mining leases were granted to many private parties in Tamilnadu.
In 1990, India was in the 9th place in the world in garnet production. By the untiring efforts and hard work of the Indian garnet private mining lease holders, and by the encouragement given by the Governments, India was able to reach the second position in garnet production in the world during the year 1997. We are very proud and pleased to inform that for the past 13 years, India, Our Mother Land, ranks First in the world’s garnet production.
It is to be clearly noted that the ‘No Objection Certificate’ granted by Atomic Energy Department in 1985 has taken a long gap to yield the desired result..
In the interest of our Nation’s welfare, M/s. IREL who have over four decades of rich experience in Ilmenite mining and trading should come forward with magnanimity and with “Big Brother” attitude to share their rich experience and technical skills with private sector entrepreneurs. It is quite essential for the development of the industry in global footing.
It is quite relevant and pertinent to point out here that International Ocean Congress, an International Ocean Research Institute has recommended that mining leases for Beach Sand Minerals should be granted without delay as these minerals are replenishable and also vanishable, and that the Government and Financial Institutions should come forward to guide, help and finance for the speedy development of mining and mineral separation projects.These recommendations, we believe, will be highly appreciated and most welcome by one and all.
Govt., of India in 2008 based on the High Level Committee recommendation constituted by the planning commission notified the National Mineral Policy. For the policy announced by the Government to be implemented in war-footing, the mining leases should be granted without further delay. Necessary financial assistance should be made available from nationalized banks and private financial institutions.
For joint venture, foreign companies ask the following questions:
What is the mining lease period?
- How much is the area granted for mining lease?
2. What is the reserve potential?
3. How to overcome the delay in getting mining lease and Environmental Clearance etc.,
4. Whether local Government’s will help and support will be available?
Only if all the questions are answered in affirmative, we can go in for joint venture and foreign direct investment also will come.
The International marketable Standard for Ilmenite content is 52.5% TiO2. In Tamilnadu the beach sand with more than 52.5% TiO2 is available only in the west coast in Kanyakumari District. M/s. IREL, which is in existence for many decades has used only the rich deposit and has neglected and wasted the low grade beach sand minerals.
The East Coast Ilmenite content is less than 52% TiO2. Hence to make it marketable, High Grade Ilmenite is required to blend with low grade Ilmenite in order to attract a reasonable price.
Only after introduction of Policy on Beach Minerals in 1998 and permitting wholly Indian owned companies in all beach mineral mining, Indian Ilmenite production and export has increased. According to the key note address of Joint Secretary of DAE our India has estimated 348 million tons of Ilmenite from 1000 Kms of explored area. But the current rate of exploitation is only 0.001%.
Already more than 50,000 people get direct and indirect employment from 71 private mining leases in Tamilnadu. The total area of mining lease is less than 700 Hectares. If mining leases are granted in respect of pending applications of beach minerals, approximately 5000 Hect., it will further facilitate setting up of few more factories thereby giving employment to around additional 1,00,000 to 5,00,000 persons both in the mines as well as in the factories.
Now Ilmenite, Rutile, Zircon, Leucoxene and Monazite all are Part ‘B’ of the First Schedule as Atomic Minerals. But Ilmenite, Rutile, Leucoxene are Titanium minerals and Zircon is Zirconium mineral. These minerals are not used for production of Atomic Energy or research thereof. Since these Ilmenite, Rutile, Leucoxene, Zircon etc., are not used for production of Atomic Energy or research thereof, the High level committee of Planning Commission request to de-list the above minerals from the list of Atomic Minerals.
In terms of the semantic contents of the provisions of Section 2(G) of Atomic Energy Act 1962 “Prescribed Substances” mean any substance which may be used for production or use of Atomic Energy or research into matters connected therewith which includes Uranium, Plutonium, Thorium, Beryllium, Deuterium ,etc . In the circumstances it is a proven fact that Ilmenite, Rutile, Leucoxene, Zircon etc are not in use in any of the above said specific purposes and do not possess any Atomic Mineral property and therefore Ilmenite, Rutile etc which have been already removed from the list of prescribed substances, must be delisted from the Atomic Minerals in the MMDR Act amendment 2015. The main argument is it is associated with monazite. But the monazite percentage is very less. According to the AERB license condition, if the monazite content is less than 5% it should be blended with waste sand and refilled in the mined pits and if it is more than 5%, it should be stored separately. Hence, necessary safe guards have been taken by AERB.
If Govt., of India want to harvest the fullest fruit in terms of the MMDR Amended Act, 2015 by encouraging private entrepreneur and foreign direct investment etc., it is just and necessary to change Ilmenite, Rutile, Zircon, Leucoxene from the Part-‘B’ of first schedule of MMDR Act . So that additional employment generation not less than one to five lakh people will be created, in addition to, foreign exchange earnings of Rs.10,000 crore per year.
I therefore request the various government departments, to intervene in this matter and to convene a joint meeting along with industry representatives and make suitable amendments in this respect.