IREL applies for mining of rare earths in Puri coast

Bhubaneswar: Indian Rare Earths Ltd (IERL), which comes under the Department of Atomic Energy, has sought permission for rare earth mining in the coastal stretch in Bramhagiri in Puri district.

"We have already applied for a prospective license from the Odisha government for mining in the coastal areas of around 2,500 hectares at Bramhagiri in Puri district," IREL Chairman and Managing Director R N Patra said here.

The Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research, Hyderabad, a constituent unit under the DAE, has conducted survey and found huge deposits of rare earths minerals in the coastal stretch of Puri.

The coastal stretch in Puri will be the second area off Odisha coast where deposits of the minerals are found after the coastal areas in Ganjam district.

In order to harness the huge deposits across a mining area of 24.64 sq km from Ganjam coast, IREL has set up Odisha Sands Complex (OSCOM), one of its units at Matikhola near Chhatrapur, Patra said.

The company has been mining and separating heavy minerals like ilmenite, rutile, zircon, silimanite, garnet and monazite from beach sands which are high in demand in internal and foreign countries which are used in the manufacture of white pigment, ceramics, polishing glass and TV tubes.

"There is a good deposit of rare earths minerals in the Bramhagiri stretch. So we applied for the prospective license," IREL chief said.

The IREL has taken lease of around 2,400 hectares off Ganjam coast for mining and to separate the heavy minerals from the sand. The mining was completed in around 35% of the leased areas so far.