Over half a dozen downstream companies will be impacted by the Tamil Nadu Government’s decision to halt mineral sand mining pending an enquiry into allegations of illegal exploitation of the resource.
According to the Mineral Welfare Association representing the industry workers, the ban on mining of beach sand in Tuticorin and Tirunelveli announced by the State Government on September 17 also affects the livelihood of 30,000 families and logistics operations in the Tuticorin Port.
The beach sand is a source of ilmenite and rutile – raw materials for making titanium and titanium dioxide – and garnet used in high-end abrasives. Industrial activity relating to sand blasting, ceramics, paint, cosmetics and welding will be affected by the ban on beach sand mining, according to the association.
Seven industrial units – DCW Ltd, Kilburn Chemicals, Kolmak Chemicals Ltd, Cochin Minerals and Rutile Ltd, Thiruvancore Titanium, Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd and Bala Murugan Chemicals – are dependent on the raw materials, the Association said.
In a representation to the State Government it urged mining to be allowed while investigations continue. If there are irregularities, the companies may then be penalised.
Another option would be to carry out the inspection in one district at a time while allowing others to operate.
Over 1,500 trucks are used for transporting the ore. The operations of the logistics services providers will also be hit by the month-long ban, the association said.
According to the Association, there are over 20 mining companies and lease holders involved in mineral sand mining over an area of 2,300 acres they own and 590 acres of Government land taken on lease. Even the licensed activities have been affected by the ban.
The industry is a strongly regulated one with every truck load of ore needing a permit before it can be moved.
(This article was published on September 22, 2013)