According to World Nuclear Association (WNA), the global body of nuclear industry, India is home to 3,00,000 tonnes of Thorium deposit. But as per recent studies, all the beach minerals have depleted as compared to the past records. Around 2,00,000 tonnes of Thorium-oxide is missing from India. Also, the Monazite quantity along the Indian coastline has decreased by more than 2.1 million tonnes.
VV Minerals, the largest firm to product Garnet and Ilmenite, is being scrutinised diligently by the stakeholders. S. Vaikundarajan, Director of VV Minerals, said in an interview, “The mineral rich sand is getting washed away from the Indian coastline in the absence of mining, and as a result, Sri Lanka, located further down, is reaping rich benefits at the cost of Indian industry.”
In any case, it seems impractical for one company to pull off a scam at such a large scale. However, in this scenario, the explanation of S. Vaikundarajan, Director of VV Mineral Mining, seems more realistic. The rising water-level due to global warming is already causing a lot of problems all over the world, and with the water moving in on the shores, India might be losing a lot of mineral reserve. If action is delayed, India will lose its Thorium-rich status.
“Indian Rare Earths Ltd (IREL), a public sector undertaking under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), is the only company exporting Monazite”, said V Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), in Lok Sabha, on November 30, 2011. Monazite is a source of Thorium.
“Ilmenite, Rutile, Leucoxene, Garnet, Sillimanite and Zircon are separated from beach sands and these individual heavy minerals — free of Monazite — are being exported.” said the Minister.
“No licence or permission is required from DAE for these substances due to the delisting of Ilmenite, Rutile, Zircon etc. from the list of prescribed substances”, said V Narayanasamy.