In the nuclear power programme of the country, uranium plays the key role. The first stage of three-stage programme of the Department is based on PHWRs which are fuelled by natural uranium. The second stage envisages utilization of plutonium produced in the first stage and the third stage is based on thorium fuel. Therefore, apart from uranium, AMD has also been engaged in locating and evaluating the mineral resources of thorium and other nuclear raw materials, such as zirconium, beryllium, lithium, etc. required for implementing the above programme. These minerals, such as ilmenite, rutile (titanium minerals), zircon (zirconium mineral), monazite (thorium and REE mineral) along with garnet and sillimanite, occur abundantly along the eastern and western coastal plains of the country as well as in some inland placers of Tamil Nadu,Bihar and West Bengal. Amongst these, ilmenite, rutile, zircon and monazite are grouped as prescribed substances under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962.AMD has the mandate to explore and evaluate the resources of these minerals.Of the nearly 6000 km. coastal length of the country nearly one third has been explored so far and a large tonnages of these minerals established.
The beach sand and inland placer minerals find wide application in both atomic energy and other industries. The salient uses of these minerals are:
Ilmenite: It is a source mineral for titanium. It is used in garter springs of a nuclear reactor and as titanium pigment, titanium metal, and sand blasting
Rutile: titanium pigment, titanium metal, welding rod flux
Leucoxene: titanium pigment, welding rod flux
Zircon: Zircalloys as cladding material for nuclear fuel, opacifier/ pigments for ceramics, refractories, zirconium metal production, abrasives
Monazite: source for thorium, rare earth elements
There are 27 deposits of beach sand and inland placer minerals identified so far along the coastline and inland placers of India. The total resources established in these deposits are given in Table.
Considering the large resource base of these minerals and growing demand for their value added products it was decided by the Government to allow Private Sector participation in this highly capital intensive field. Accordingly, DAE has issued Policy Resolution, 1998 allowing participation of entrepreneurs in
(i) Mining and Mineral separation
(ii) Value addition per se to the products of (i) above
(iii) Integrated activities (Comprising both (i) and (ii) above)
Various summary and detailed reports on beach sand mineral deposits are now made available to entrepreneurs on payment basis at a cost which will be intimated on specific request. The list of executive summaries currently available for sale are given in Table.
The reports on any other area, not listed above, can be generated by AMD on specific request.