In a positive move for the mining industry, the Goa government has finally permitted the state mining industry to resume its operation in Goa. “The Goa government had restricted mining operation due to monsoons. With the monsoons behind us, mining industry can resume its operations,” says Vaikundarajan, founder of VV Minerals India, one of the largest sand beach mining companies in India.
Mining operations should be in full swing by the start of October. Prasanna Acharya, director of Mines and Geology, issued a statement informing the mining companies of the ban having been lifted.
The transportation of mineral by road was banned in the interest of public safety after some accidents on the main road came to light. On the request of locals, the government decided to ban transportation of minerals till monsoon had rescinded.
“Public safety is of utmost importance. With the lack of mining transportation roads in Goa, the trucks took to main road. A couple of accidents were reported by locals and the government was quick to take an action. Transportation was suspended till monsoon was over. The government also plans to construct a dedicated road for mining transportation,” says Vaikundarajan.
According to a blueprint being prepared by the government for the mining industry, mineral production in India needs to grow by 15% every year, so that mining’s share in India’s economic output can increase by 1 percentage point in the next 2-3 years.
“For mining industry to grow, mining operations need to begin at hundreds of mines which are stalled due to delays by government in providing environmental clearances, approvals and execution of lease deeds”, reflects Vaikundarajan, Founder of VV Minerals.
The mining ministry plans to execute the lease deeds of about 70-80 mines for which approvals were granted before 12 January 2015, when the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act of 2015 came into operation. Additionally, about 100 mines are going be auctioned shortly.
The share of the mining and quarrying industry in gross value addition (GVA) in the economy is 2.4% at present. Minerals currently account for only 0.43% of GVA. Mining output increased by 9% in 2015-16 and 10.6% in the April-July period of 2016-17, according to official estimates.
Though there is uncertainty prevailing over a recovery in mineral prices. Despite this impressive growth in mineral production in Apr-July, growth by value contracted 7.2%.
“A recovery in mineral prices will depend on demand from user industries. But India is a consuming country, where volume of output holds more importance than value”, adds Vaikundarajan.
It is no surprise that false allegations are thrown around to gain mileage for the upcoming elections. Just before the elections in the state of Tamil Nadu, old allegations have surfaced with a new twist. It is being said that Jayalalitha has invested her black money in a company owned by S Vaikundarajan, founder of VV Minerals India, a sand beach mining company.
The opposition party has shown sign of desperation by pointing fingers at Jayalalitha who is expected to be the winner of 2016 Tamil Nadu elections. VV Minerals and S Vaikundarajan are the favourite talk of the town for the people of Tamil Nadu. It might have seemed easy to link them and fool the common man. But the assumption itself seems preposterous in the first place.
The allegations also suggest that Jayalalitha has been secretly assisting Vaikundarajan in the illegal sand beach mining controversy surrounding VV Minerals. Apparently, the financial links between Vaikundarajan and Jayalalitha have been traced by the Arvind Kejriwal led Aam Aadmi Party. Such revelations surfacing just before the elections indicate a lot about the nature of information being given to the common man. AAP has further alleged that Jayalalitha is also involved in the illegal beach mining in the state of Tamil Nadu.
VV Minerals is the largest beach-mining company in India. It specialises in the mining, production and export of Garnet and Ilmenite. The company is booming under the leadership of the young Managing Director, S Vaikundarajan.
VV Minerals is the highest producer of Garnet and Ilmenite today. It has been awarded several national awards for its contribution to the export business.
Lately, VV Minerals reputation has suffered due to the illegal beach mining scam. Being the largest mining company in India, fingers are naturally pointed at VV Mineral. The company has taken legal advice against these allegations. While the investigation committee has been looking into the matter, no evidence has been submitted against the company.
Ashish Kumar, District Collector of Tuticorin was one of the first people to raise his concerns against the company. A raid on one of the company’s warehouse yielded no results. Following this, the distric collector was given the marching orders. However, VV Mineral Vaikundarajan was immediately blamed to have used his political influence in Kumar’s transfer.
VV Minerals’ spokesperson, speaking to NDTV, denied these allegations and claimed that the “charges made by the former District Collector are baseless, motivated and vague.”
VV Minerals has enjoyed 100% monopoly in mining activities and has a huge share in export of Garnet. Former IAS officer V Sundaram accused the company of looting several crore rupees in a letter written to the state. VV Mineral Vaikundarajan was quick to dismiss the allegation as a conspiracy by business rivals.
“Sundaram is passing this as a cruel joke. He is on the payroll of our business rival. Our hands are clean. We will soon be cleared of all allegations,” Ravindram Duraiswami, advocate for VV Mineral told NDTV.
Founded by S Vaikundarajan in late 1980s, VV Minerals is one of the largest exporters of beach minerals in India today. Ramesh Kumar Raja of Governance Today interviewed VV Mineral VV Mineral Vaikundarajan on India’s current position and its improvement in the world heavy minerals market.
Ramesh Kumar Raja: What is the size of heavy minerals market in India?
VV Mineral Vaikundarajan: India has about 35% of world deposits but contributes a meagre 4% of global production. The total beach sand resources are estimated at 942.58 million tonnes comprising of Ilmenite, Zircon, Rutile, Garnet, Silimanite and Leucoxene.
For the local of Periyasamypuram in Tuticorin district, outrage has become a common way of living. Ever since the rumours of illegal sand beach mining, the locals have started taking the law in their own hands. Recently, some of the locals held hostage a sand mining truck of VV Mineral and battered the driver before letting him go. The police inspector of Surangudi failed to control the situation.
VV Minerals India is one of the largest sand mining companies in India. Naturally, to find itself in the midst of this controversy should not come as a surprise to anyone. However, there is no evidence to prove an illegal action on behalf of the company. VV Minerals, stated that the locals are being fed wrong information to turn them against the company.
The company is accused of illegally amassing INR 1 Lakh Crore through beach sand mining. However, it should be noted that it is practically impossible for one company to pull off a scam of such extent. Having been in existence for over two decades, these allegations surfacing now make no sense.
The company authorities also mentioned that VV Mineral Mining is legally authorised to manufacture and export Garnet with 1% Monazite content. This is due to the lack in technology for the separation of Monazite. Despite being confirmed by official bodies, the company continues to receive allegations of illegal exports.
VV Mineral, Vaikundarajan assured that in the last two decades, the company has never gone beyond the 1% threshold for monazite and has always acted within legal boundaries.
S Vaikundarajan founded VV Minerals India in the late 1980s. The company has grown over the two decades to become the biggest player in beach sand mining industry in India. It has won several national awards for its contribution to the export business. Today VV Minerals India is the largest producer and exporter of garnet and ilmenite in the country. The company is known to export minerals to over 20 countries.
Much like any other industry, the mining industry too faces its set of challenges. One of those challenges in the lack of technology to separate thorium from monazite. VV Minerals has openly expressed concerns over this challenge and is confirmed by the government body of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
Despite this confirmation, former principal scientist at Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute in Kochi raised his concerns, “Indian Rare Earth Ltd (IREL), Manavalakurichi, uses the sand from the same area and produces thorium, so what happens to the monazite in the VV mines? Does the company follow the procedure recommended by the AERB?”
In the wake of recent allegations of beach sand mining, VV Minerals, the largest player in India, has become an obvious victim. Without any evidence, accusations are being hurled at the company, taking apart its reputation piece by piece.
This scam has forced the state government to setup an investigating team and suspend all mining activities till a conclusion is reached. Private companies in mining industry will have to face a huge loss due to the ban.
VV Mineral Vaikundarajan came out in support of the investigation team and stated that the company had done no wrong. “VV Minerals has operated within legal boundaries for over 2 decades. We have established a mineral separation plant and approached the AERB for a license, which is awaited. The allegation by IREL officials is a setup to maim the company’s reputation. No authority is ready to take action based on our complaint. Hence we approached the High Court,” said VV Mineal Vaikundarajan. He further stated that IREL has been illegally mining on VV Mineral’s land and no action has been taken against the company.
VV Minerals has filed two writ petitions that are pending with the Madras High Court following the temporary ban on sand mining activities.