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.
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.
VV Minerals India is a mining company that leads the mining industry of Tamil Nadu. They are one of the highest exporters of best quality ilmenite, sillimanite, rutile, zircon and garnet. The company is over 20 years old and was started by S Vaikundarajan, a simple down-to-earth man who believes in honest business.
VV Minerals India was built on the efforts of S Vaikundarajan who started the company in 1989 with no help even from his family
VV Minerals has won numerous awards from the State and Central Governments as well as from authority committees in the mining industry
VV Minerals was the first ever company to receive a commercial mining license in India and thus they continue to be the forerunners of the mining industry in Tamil Nadu
When they started the mining business they had no rivals at all. Slowly with time and change in government policies VV Minerals has earned business rivals
S Vaikundarajan suspects that these fairly new mining companies are looking for an easy way out to getting ahead in business
Thus, in a desperate attempt to surpass VV Minerals the company rivals have plotted the alleged illegal beach mining scam and are now suggesting political involvement
However, S Vaikundarajan remains strong through all of it and is confident that may it be being held responsible for the alleged scam, the coast erosion of the political connections; each of these false accusations will be cleared and the VVM name will be clean once again.
The acquisition of Transworld Granite India Pvt. Ltd. has allowed VV Minerals to join the league of beach sand mining in India. The owner of the company, Mr. S. Vaikundarajan also deals with business in other sectors like paint pigments, agro and others.
VV Minerals is by far the only company to get leased shore land for a period of 40 years from the Government of Tamil Nadu. It is primarily based in Chennai, and its headquarters is at Tisayanvilai. This area is a highly valuable region for acquisition of a lot of heavy minerals such as Garnet, Ilmenite, Rutile, and Zircon. It covers hundreds of acres of sea shore in the Gulf of Mannar.
The company has 5 wet plants near the mining areas that are used to process the mined sand. There are mechanized facilities as well as manual loading that are used for garnet mining and other kind of mining such as ilmenite mining, Rutile mining, and Zircon mining. In addition to that, V.V. Mineral has 6 dry plants that are also situated in the close to the mining sites.
We had the opportunity to meet the technical manager of VV Minerals, India. He is one of the oldest employees at the company, with 23 years of experience in heavy mineral mining. The time he joined the organization, it was quite small and had less than 100 employees. He has been a witness to the dramatic change in the number of employees and the development of this sector in India. He proudly states, “Now I am the technical manager and not less than 1500 employees are working under me.”
He is one of those employees who has seen the company grow to great heights and then crumble because of the false allegations made on the company for illegal mining. “I used to liaise with more than 1000 vendors, who supply various materials required by VVM and I have noticed a pale of gloom surrounding their faces too due to the current scenario”, he says.
The heavy mineral mining industry is at a standstill in Tamil Nadu and this is affecting about 50,000 people directly or indirectly. The greatest hit is at VV Mineral, a private heavy mineral mining company owned by Mr. S. Vaikundarajan who was at the leading position in the entire nation until they were framed for illegal beach mining. Although the allegations are proven false, the government is still not given a word on uplifting the ban.
The following video talks about the Business Standard news story which was published on June 3, 2014, stating that the leading industry player, VV Minerals feels that the ban on mining activities has led to the unemployment of 50,000 people in Tamil Nadu. It also provided information about their mining activities in India. They are the largest Ilmenite manufacturers and exporters in India. They are the first private ilmenite exporters of India. VV Minerals India has a huge market share in Europe, Middle East, East Asia, Australia and USA. They are based in Tamil Nadu and the company is owned by Mr. S Vaikundarajan. Mr. V Subramanian the Managing Director of VV Minerals, also spoke about a few challenges the industry currently faces.
In earlier times, countries like Australia, Canada, America and South Africa were leading in the field of heavy mineral mining and India was on the 21st place. However, after the inception VV minerals stands on the 5th position among the world’s heavy mineral producers. This company was started by Mr. S. Vaikundarajan.
Now, the company has eminent personalities that help in the growth and development of this company. Some of the prominent figures in the top management of VV Minerals India are Mr. J. Muthurajan and Mr. V. Subramanian and Mr. Jeegathesan.
The beach sands of India are abundantly rich in mineral contents, but, it is not used for the right purposes. In fact, they are used for filling of pits and construction purposes. This poses as waste of resources. Also, the excise duty and service tax on mineral producers is unnecessarily high.
The private heavy mineral manufacturers like VV Minerals, India have to compete with international markets. For the sake of development of these remote areas and the state economy, and ultimately the country’s economic benefit, there needs to be relaxation in the norms of this industry.