Make In India – Beach Sand Mining Sector

The mining industry contributes remarkably to the Economy of India. The sand mining industry is one of the key contributors in the mining sector. Sand mining is a process to extract sand and other rare earth minerals from the open pits. These rare earth minerals generally consist of elements like ilmenite, rutile, garnet, zircon, sillimanite, leucoxene and monazite.  These seven elements are extensively used in various day to day consumer products, as well as high tech applications.

Due to various conservative policies of government, the potential of private players in this industry is hindered. Beach sand-mining is different in many aspects. It is an important industry whose development is essential not just for India’s economic health but also strategic benefit. Until 1998, rare earth minerals were completely controlled by the government.

Globally, the rare earth mineral market is dominated by China with 97% of the export and India is the second largest exporter. Prices have increased, due to Beijing’s latest restrictions on rare earth minerals export. Countries like United States, France and Japan have being showing interest in the development of Indian rare earth mineral deposits.

In India, one of the largest producer and exporter of rare earth minerals like ilmenite is V. V. Mineral. The Managing Director and CEO of V. V. Mineral, S. Vaikundarajan said, “Though India is home to 35% of global rare earth minerals and 71% of world’s monazite reserve, China dominates the rare earth supply of the world. With a slight change in the policies, India can be the world top player of rare earth minerals.”  Further he added, “Keeping in mind the current demand of beach minerals owing to rapid innovation, the Make in India objective of the government won’t be so difficult to achieve.”

Beach Sand Mining sector can turn out to be a triumphant Make In India programme, if appropriate acknowledgment and encouragement is given by the central and state governments.

 

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Striking a Balance: Mining and Nature

Justice Dalip Singh, judicial member, Central Bench, Bhopal of National Green Tribunal (NGT), said that major issues in the state are mining and forests, in a recent meeting at a seminar on ‘legal awareness of environment issues: role of courts and national green tribunal’ in Jaipur. “Minerals are found in forest areas. But, we have to protect the forest areas from getting affected due to mining. On the other hand, mining is also required as we need minerals. So, there should be a balance between the two,” Singh said.

Singh also emphasised that there is a need for research and development. “We have not invested so far in research. Not a single ministry has done any research on it.” he said.

However, as per reports and industry veterans, the resources for mining in India are not as limited as they seem. Reports suggest that India is not using its complete potential for mining, especially in the sector of beach minerals.

“I agree on the point that even more research and development is required to spot the appropriate areas for mining purposes. But it is also a fact that India is not short of resources and the mining industry can grow tremendously if government comes up with policies to favour efficient and nature-friendly mining practices.” said Vaikundarajan, MD & CEO of V. V. Minerals. V. V. Minerals is the largest sand mining company in India.