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India's Rare Earth Resources : Challenges and Potential.



  Oct 13, 2023

Rare Earths in India



Rare Earth Resources in India:

India has the fifth-largest rare earth resources globally.
Indian resources have low-grade ore and radioactivity, making extraction complex.
Heavy Rare Earth Elements (HREE) are not available in extractable quantities.

Complex Value Chain:

Rare earth extraction involves a complex value chain, including mining, beneficiation, extraction, separation, refining, and product applications.
India lacks industrial-scale facilities for alloy and magnet production.

Monazite Resource:

India has significant monazite resources in coastal and inland placer sands across several states.
These sands contain about 55-60% total Rare Earth Elements oxide.

High-Value Rare Earths:

More than 80% of rare earth usage is in permanent magnets, primarily Neodymium, Praseodymium, Dysprosium, and Terbium.
Dysprosium and Terbium are not available in extractable quantities in India's reserves.
Neodymium and Praseodymium are available in Indian deposits up to 99.9% purity.

Mining Constraints:

Challenges in rare earth mining include Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) regulations, mangroves, forests, and local habitation.

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Monazite Resources:

India has about 13.07 million tonnes of monazite in coastal sands (Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat) and inland areas (Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu).
Monazite contains around 55-60% Rare Earth Elements oxide.

Usage of Rare Earths:

More than 80% of rare earths are used in making permanent magnets.
These magnets require specific Rare Earth Elements (Neodymium, Praseodymium, Dysprosium, and Terbium) which are essential for clean energy technologies.

Availability of High-Value Rare Earths:

Dysprosium and Terbium are valuable Rare Earth Elements but not found in significant amounts in India's current reserves.
Indian deposits primarily contain Neodymium and Praseodymium, which are extracted with high purity levels (up to 99.9%).
Neodymium and Praseodymium are present in Indian deposits in small amounts, ranging from 0.0011 to 0.012%.

Mining Challenges:

Mining Rare Earth Elements faces challenges due to Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) regulations, protection of mangroves and forests, and inhabited areas.

India's Capabilities:

India has the capability to extract Light Rare Earth Elements up to the metal extraction stage.
In summary, India has substantial monazite resources containing Rare Earth Elements, but the availability of specific high-value Rare Earth Elements is limited.
Challenges in mining include environmental regulations and human habitation. India is capable of extracting Light Rare Earth Elements up to the metal extraction stage.


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