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Environment ministry stops clearance to mining of beach sand minerals

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    18th Apr, 2019

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) agreed  to a request by the Ministry of Mines (MoM), seeking that clearances to private companies for mining beach sand minerals be stopped.

Context

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) agreed  to a request by the Ministry of Mines (MoM), seeking that clearances to private companies for mining beach sand minerals be stopped.

About

  • There is a market for heavy minerals such as ilmenite, rutile, leucoxene, garnet, monazite, zircon and sillimanite, found in beach sand.
  • They are processed to derive rare earth elements and titanium used in a variety of industries, including paints and cosmetics.
  • Monazite is the primary ore for thorium, a nuclear fuel. Its presence brings beach sand mining under the Atomic Minerals Concession Rules.
  • As monazite is found in various concentrations in all the beaches, this amendment essentially meant a ban on mining by private companies. The MoM’s notification followed an August 2018 ban on export of sand minerals.

Key Facts:-

  • A state government can permit private companies to mine only if atomic mineral in an ore is below a certain threshold, according to Atomic Minerals Concession Rules, 2016.
  • The MoM, through a notification, prohibited private companies from mining beach sand minerals by changing the threshold limit for monazite from 0.75 per cent to zero.
  • At 13 per cent of the world reserves, India has the third-largest stash of beach sand minerals and meets 6-7 per cent of global demand.
  • According to the Working Group of Planning Commission for the 12th Plan, mining of beach sand minerals in India was expected to reach about 0.18 million tonnes per year by 2017, accounting for a tenth of global production.
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