The mineral monazite, occurring in beach sand and inland placer deposits along the coastal tracts of India, is the major resource of rare earths in the country. Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), a constituent unit of Department of Atomic Energy, has estimated 0.892 million tonnes of monazite resources in Kollam district, Kerala. The details are given below:
In situ Resources of Monazite
The beach sand minerals found in the Kollam district of Kerala contain, at different locations, monazite content ranging from 0.058 % to 0.734 %. The mineral monazite, typically contains about 55 – 60% total Rare Earth Oxides and about 9 – 10% Thorium Oxide.
Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL), a Public Sector Undertaking under DAE, has set up a Monazite Processing Plant at Orissa Sands Complex (OSCOM), Odisha to process 10,000 tons per annum of monazite to produce mixed rare earth chloride.
Further, IREL has already commissioned its High Pure Rare Earths plant at Rare Earths Division, Aluva, in Kerala to process mixed rare earth chloride RCL and produce high pure separated rare earths.
Besides, IREL has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL) and International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI) for development of rare earths permanent magnet rings.