CHENNAI: THE Union government is mulling a proposal to re-introduce the Monazite Test Certificate (MTC) system to liberalise export of all beach minerals to other countries.
This was revealed by Ramesh Kumar of Atomic Minerals Directorate (AMD), at a review meeting organised by the Ministry of Mines to discuss issues relating to mining and export of beach sand minerals in Tamil Nadu, chaired by Ministry joint secretary Bipul Pathak at New Delhi on October 24, 2017.
All beach minerals were permitted to be exported only on MTC system till 2007, when this system was abolished. Re-introduction of MTC system was also discussed to permit the lessees and traders to export minerals with MTC to be obtained from Atomic Minerals Directorate.
This information was disclosed in a reply by the Union Ministry of Mines on January 8 last in response to a query from N Pauldurai aka Perumal of Beach Mineral Producers Association at Mahadevankulam in Tirunelveli district under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Pathak said due to stoppage of export of Garnet from Tamil Nadu, the Ministry had received references from Embassies of India in Germany and US along with petitions from mineral traders regarding the non-availability of Indian Garnet, which is used in blasting and manufacture of high precision equipment. US and Germany are the major consumers of Garnet from Tamil Nadu. Support from the Ministry has been sought to resolve the impasse leading to non-availability of Garnet in the international market as the situation has created insecurity among business entities dependent on Garnet supply from India, he added.
The Ministry has also been getting complaints alleging illegal mining and export of Monazite, which is a prescribed substance.
Stopping of mining operations of Garnet, Ilmenite and Rutile has affected the foreign exchange earnings, but the problem has unfolded a new dimension with the international traders requesting intervention of Centre for resolving the issue of export of beach sand minerals for industries dependent on Ore (Garnet) supply.
The Ministry is also in receipt of a report from the Regional Labour Commissioner with regard to the displacement of employment due to stoppage of mining operations in the five southern districts of Tamil Nadu.
The ministry was getting several complaints on illegal export of Monazite. This is also one of the issues being heard by the Madras High Court in a PIL. It was stated there is no credible basis to confirm export of Monazite. It was agreed upon that the export of minerals is a serious issue and that steps should be taken by working in close co-ordination between the central government, Indian Bureau of Mines, Department of Customs, Atomic Minerals Directorate and Department of Atomic Energy to prevent illegal export of Monazite.