Facts about Thorium and Monazite – A Clarification
As the name ‘Coastal Environmental and Ecological Committee’ itself implies that we are functioning as a ‘watch dog’ in the matter of conservation and preservation of ‘Ecology and Environment’ particularly in the coastal areas. We are acting in an unbiased manner whenever and wherever there is a threat to the ecology and environment of the coastal areas and in the process we raise our voice, concern and protest in all proper fora to ensure that there is no degradation caused to the ecology and environment of the areas.
We have studied the contents of the report put up on the blog http://www.the-citizen.in/news Detail.aspx? by one Mr.Srinivasan Kalyanaraman some of which are briefly indicated below:
- Unauthorised mining of ‘monazite’ by some private firms without holding valid license from the AERB .
- Monazite contains Uranium
- The State Govt. of Tamil Nadu does not have any power to grant mining concessions in respect of major minerals and more so for Garnet, Ilmenite ,Rutile , Monazite, etc minerals which are called prescribed substances
- The State Govt. authorities have illegally permitted certain private firms to mine monazite also.
When we set out to gather authentic information from proper source of information whether the above information posted in the said block are correct or not, a reply to the above articled has been posted by one Dr.Anitha who is a Bio-technologist in her face book.
Dr.Anitha has done a commendable job in giving a suitable reply to all the above said points. She has profusely quoted and cited the existing provisions of MMDR Act, 1957 , MCR, 1960 and various official circulars, clarifications and instructions issued by the Dept. of Atomic Energy, Ministry of Mines , Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, etc from time to time on mining and disposal of monazite. The above detailed reply of Dr.Anitha has exposed the article of Mr.S.Kalyanraman that it contains bundle of lies. Dr.Anitha has nailed all the lies with facts and figures about the whole scenario of beach sand mining with particular reference to monazite. The above said rejoinder from Dr.Anitha throws much light on the statutory powers of the Central and the State Govts. with regard to mining of major minerals.
From the presentation of facts posted by Dr.Anitha it can be very well understood that all mining leases in respect of Ilmenite, Rutile, Zircon and Monazite are being sanctioned by the State Govt. of Tamil Nadu only with the prior approval of the Ministry of Mines and with the concurrence of Dept. of Atomic Energy. As regards monazite also the report reveals that even though the private mining lessees are entitled to get monazite included in their existing mining leases granted for other minerals such as Ilmenite, Garnet, Rutile, etc , final disposal of monazite , however, can be done by them only after obtaining proper license from AERB. The above detailed reply posted by Dr.Anitha has thus put an end to the misrepresentation of facts about mining of beach sand minerals and also a fear psychosis created in the minds of the general public about mining of monazite mineral.
Therefore, we do not wish to harp on the same matter in this reply. However, we are duty bound to furnish certain authentic details about monazite . Our present reply is based on the publication details by Indian Bureau of Mines, Ministry of Mines, Govt. of India in February, 2014 in their Indian Minerals Year Book 2012 (Part-III : Mineral Reviews) 51st Edition (Final release) exclusively on Rare earths.
We would like all the concerned people particularly Mr.S.Kalyanaraman to visit the Email : firstname.lastname@example.org and website : www.ibm.gov.in to find out the veracity of our following reply comments.
The extracts of its contents are furnished below :
“Monazite belongs to a group of rare earths minerals”
“The mineral monazite occurs in association with other heavy minerals such as Ilmenite, Rutile, Zircon, etc in concentration of 0.4 to 4.3% of total heavies in the beaches”
“The state wise resources are given in table-I below (includes indicated, inferred and speculative categories)”
State in Million tonnes
Tamil Nadu 2.16
(Source : Dept. of Atomic Energy , Mumbai)
“The details of exploration carried out by AMD , State Directorates, etc are provided in the review on Ilmenite and Rutile.”
“IREL , a Govt. of India undertaking , KMML , a Kerala State Govt. undertaking are only actively engaged in mining and processing of beach sand minerals from placer minerals.”
“IREL produced 16 Tonnes of Rare earths. “
“There was no production during 2010-2011 and 2011-2012”
“A total production and prices of rare earths in India :-
Year Quantity in tonnes Value (Rs. In Lakhs)
2009-10 16 4.8
2010-11 Nil Nil
2011-12 Nil Nil
IREL and KMML have the facility to separate monazite. Installed capacity of monazite (96% pure) is 6000 tonnes per year while that of KMML at Chavara is 240 tonnes per year. Details regarding mining and processing , etc are provided in the review on ‘Ilmenite and Rutile’”.
Policy on Rare Earths
“ Rare earths compounds are freely exportable. But rare earths phosphates (monazite) which contain Thorium are controlled under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962.”
“Monazite contains about 25 to 28% P2O5 which can be recovered as a by-product for manufacturer of fertilizers and production of elemental phosphorous or its salts.”
“Besides, rare earths, Thorium is also recovered from Monazite. “This confirms the contention of Dr.Anitha that monazite does not contain Uranium but only an ore of Thorium .
“The total consumption of rare earth in 2009-10 and 2010-11 was estimated as 118 tonnes and 128 tonnes respectively.”
“Consumption of rare earths – 2009-10 to 2011-12 by Industries
Industry 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
Paint, driers & pigments 92 76 —
Cinema arc carbon 25 46 —
TV colour picture tubes 1 — —
Glass/optical polishing — 1 2
Glassware de-colouring — 1 28
R&D and others — 4 45
Total 118 128 75
From the above illustration of facts culled from the authentic publication of Indian Bureau of Mines, attached to Ministry of Mines, Govt. of India it may understood that considering vast resources of 2.16 million tonnes of monazite estimated to be available in the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, a paltry, quantity is alone being exploited that too by IREL and KMML. Besides, its application as a source of atomic energy, the monazite has got wider usages in the manufacturer of fertilizers and production of elemental phosphorous or its salts. Therefore , the fear tried to be created in the minds of public by Mr.S.Kalyanaraman through his article is totally uncalled for and unfounded since the mineral monazite is not as ‘lethal’ a mineral as it is sought to be projected by Mr.S.Kalyanaraman in his article. Considering the facts about the availability of monazite resource in Tamil Nadu, is meager quantity of exploitation at present and above all its wider application in the manufacturer of fertilizers which are the chief inputs and ingredients used the Agricultural field for increasing the agricultural production, if monazite is not allowed to be exploited and used in the field in which it has got applications, it will go down the drain as a national waste.
In the light of the facts posted above we would like Mr.S.Kalyanaraman to correct his misconception and misunderstanding about monazite.