Indian mineral sands producer Trimex Group has received
approval from the state government of Andhra Pradesh to develop
beach sand heavy mineral projects at Bhavanapadu and
Kalingapatnam in the state’s Srikakulam
The expansion will cost INR 2,500 crore ($374m) and will add
14m tpa heavy mineral sands (HMS) capacity to
Trimex’s existing operations. This additional
volume is expected to reach the market within two years from
the date of execution of the mining lease.
As per a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between
Trimex and the government, the company has received an
in-principle grant of mining lease for beach sand minerals over
a 17.88km2 area.
The Bhavanapadu project will be developed by Trimex Heavy
Minerals Pvt Ltd (THMPL), which is proposing to mine 10m tpa
HMS. The Kalingapatnam project will be run by Trimex Ores Pvt
Ltd (TOPL), which is targeting output of 4m tpa HMS, including
ilmenite, rutile, zircon, garnet and sillimanite.
Speaking at the Assocham conference on heavy minerals held
in Delhi in December, Pradeep Koneru, managing director of
Trimex Group, said that "despite having one of the
world’s largest deposits of heavy minerals, about
28%, exploitation is dismally low, at just about 6%."
The main reasons for limited exploration have been the
various clearances and approvals required to obtain a mining
lease in India, coupled with country’s
infrastructural challenges, he said.
Trimex currently owns a single mining lease for the
Srikurmam deposit in the Srikakulam district, with permission
to mine up to 2m tpa beach sand. The current production
capacity at the Srikurmam unit amounts to 200,000 tpa ilmenite,
6,000 tpa rutile, 6,000 tpa zircon, 60,000 tpa garnet and
50,000 tpa of sillimanite.
Trimex Group has recently been charged by the Public
Accounts Committee of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly
for allegedly violating rules pertaining to mining areas and
storage of minerals. Trimex denies all of the allegations.
India’s beach sand mineral industry in
India’s long-standing beach sand mineral
industry is struggling to come to terms with new
government-imposed restrictions and requirements.
Accounting for over 4% of the global production of beach
sand minerals, India’s miners were banned from
excavating beaches in Tamil Nadu, following the implementation
of the Mining and Mineral Regulation Development Act (MMDR)
2015 last year, which aimed to protect resources and auction
off mining rights to the highest bidders.
Some miners have argued that the changes contained in MMDR
Act do not relate to beach sand minerals – which
include ilmenite, rutile, zircon, garnet, monazite and
sillimanite – as these minerals are classified as
atomic minerals under Part B of the First Schedule of the MMDR
Atomic minerals are considered as a source of energy, which
can be used as substitutes for coal, mineral oil and
Vaikundarajan Subramanian, managing partner of beach sand
miner, VV Minerals, told IM that in order to
attract foreign direct investment and develop proper
infrastructure for India’s mining sector, the
government should reclassify beach sand minerals as non-atomic.
There should be a set of clearly framed separate rules for
atomic minerals, he said, while beach sands should be promoted
to private enterprise.
*Conversions made January 2016