Ease rules, scrap taxes to promote heavy minerals mining: BMPA

Beach Minerals

Mar 11 2014

The government should abolish duties and simplify rules in securing mining leases to support domestic heavy minerals mining sector which has the potential of exponential growth, an industry association has said.

“There is abnormal delay in getting approvals for mineral concession from the state and Central governments… More than 3,000 mining lease applications are pending all over India only for heavy mineral mining,” Beach Mineral Producers Association (BMPA) said in a statement.

The industry is still at a nascent stage of development as private participation was allowed only few years back, the industry association said, adding that the sector requires policy encouragement to boost the output, which is very low despite India having one of the largest reserves in the world.

“Government grants concession or exemption for certain section of the industries for development of the industry… Without allowing at least 10 years to stabilise the industry, within six years excise duty is introduced. Definitely it will adversely affect the industry,” it said.

The industry is facing double whammy as domestic demand is abysmally low, while 10 per cent export duty imposed some years back has made Indian products uncompetitive in the international market, it said and requested the government to abolish the export duty.

Mining of heavy minerals (also known as beach sand minerals) is an emerging area in the country and state-owned PSU Indian Rare Earths Ltd accounts for most of the output. Other major players in the sector include Tamil Nadu based V V Minerals, Kerala government-owned KMML and Trimex Sands.

Ilmenite, Rutile, Zircon, Garnet, Monazite and Sillimanite form bulk of the heavy minerals and are found mainly in five states — Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra. Except monazite, all minerals are mined together from the sand at the beaches or wind concentrated deposits along the coastline.

Mining of monazite, however, is not open to the private sector due to its strategic importance of being the primary source of radio-active thorium, which is an integral part of India’s three-stage nuclear power programme.

As per industry estimates, India has over 500 million tonnes (MT) of Ilmenite reserves and resources, which is used in making titanium metal and titanium di-oxide pigments, a critical raw material for making things like paints, paper and plastic. Against such a huge reserves and resources, domestic ilmenite production is only about 8 lakh tonnes annually.

For zircon and sillimanite, which are used in making refractory and ceramics products, annual domestic production is about 35,000 tonnes, while the resource base is over 32 MT.

The sector has also been facing issues due to illegal sand mining along the rivers. Unlike the river sands, beach sands can not be used for construction purposes and mining of heavy minerals from the sand requires approval of both, the Centre and state governments.


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