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Introduction to India’s Rare and Valuable Minerals



  Jan 31, 2024

Introduction to India’s Rare and Valuable Minerals



India, endowed with a vast array of mineral resources, stands out for its significant reserves of rare minerals. These minerals, vital for various high-tech industries, include the group of 17 rare earth elements characterized by their unique physical and chemical properties. These elements are categorized into two types: light rare earth elements (LREE) and heavy rare earth elements (HREE). India ranks fifth in the world for its reserves of these rare earth minerals, contributing about 2.5% of global production.

Beyond these, India is also home to other rare minerals that are crucial for strategic and advanced technological applications. Here’s an overview of eight such rare minerals found in India:

1. Monazite:

Location: Coastal areas of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal.
Composition: A phosphate mineral containing thorium, uranium, and rare earth elements.
Usage: Integral in extracting rare earths for cutting-edge technologies and as a thorium source.

2. Zircon:

Location: Found alongside monazite in beach sand deposits.
Composition: A silicate mineral with zirconium and hafnium.
Applications: Used in producing corrosion-resistant zirconium; hafnium is crucial for nuclear control rods, superalloys, and microchips.

3. Ilmenite:

Location: Beach sand deposits, co-existing with monazite and zircon.
Composition: An oxide mineral with titanium and iron.
Importance: Key in titanium production, used in aerospace, defense, and as pigments.

4. Columbite-Tantalite (Coltan):

Location: Found in pegmatite deposits in Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, and Karnataka.
Composition: Minerals containing niobium and tantalum.
Usage: Critical for capacitors, superconductors, alloys, and surgical instruments.

5. Beryl:

Location: Pegmatite deposits alongside columbite-tantalite.
Composition: A silicate mineral with beryllium.
Applications: Used in alloys, ceramics, magnets, x-ray tubes, and in aerospace and defense.

6. Apatite:

Location: Found in sedimentary and metamorphic rocks in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.
Composition: A phosphate mineral with calcium, phosphorus, and fluorine.
Importance: Vital for producing phosphoric acid for fertilizers, food, detergents, and fluorine applications.

7. Sillimanite:

Location: Predominantly in metamorphic rocks in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, and Bihar.
Composition: A silicate mineral containing aluminum and silicon.
Applications: Used in producing aluminum and refractory materials for high-temperature industries.

8. Loparite:

Location: Mainly in alkaline igneous rocks in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Composition: A complex oxide mineral with niobium, tantalum, titanium, and rare earth elements.
Usage: Source for extracting niobium, tantalum, titanium, and rare earths, also used for thorium.

These minerals not only highlight India’s rich geological diversity but also its pivotal role in the global supply chain for critical minerals used in advanced industrial and technological applications.


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