THOOTHUKUDI: Just over two months after the Union government gave its approval for mining beach sand minerals over an extent of 1,144.06 hectares at eight villages in Kanniyakumari district, the State government has issued a letter of intent (LOI) to the Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) for mining in the region. The mineral industry has expressed its gratitude to Chief Minister MK Stalin for processing the applications swiftly.
In an order dated April 22, the Ministry of Mines (MoM) issued its 'previous' approval for granting a mining lease to IREL (India) Limited acting on the latter's application for mining beach sand minerals. The IREL has proposed to mine beach sand minerals such as ilmenite, rutile, leucoxene, zircon, monazite, garnet and sillimanite from land parcels in Keezhmidalam A, Midalam B, Enayamputhenthurai, Ezhudesam A, Ezhudesam B, Ezhudesam C, Kollencode A and Kollencode B villages of Killiyoor taluk in Kanniyakumari district.
Following the communication from the Ministry of Mines, the State Industries Department Secretary sought the IREL to submit their approved mining plan and other clearances from government agencies concerned. For permission to quarry the minerals until the entire reserves are exhausted, the Industries Department laid down a few conditions in a letter to the General Manager and Head of IREL in the district.
The letter asked IREL to obtain consent of the private landowners, licence from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), environment clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, CRZ clearance from competent authority and no-objection certificates or the like from the government authorities concerned. The mining operations should not cause any hindrance to the local public and the adjoining land pattadars, said the LOI letter dated June 28, 2022.
Speaking to TNIE, IREL sources said the State government's swift action in granting the mining lease has given a new lease of life to the central public sector unit that has been running low on raw materials for the last two decades. Now, new employment opportunities can be created and more revenue can be generated by the government.
Sources said though the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) on behalf of the IREL submitted its application for mining in these eight villages on August 13, 2015, the application was put on hold for the past six years.
"The reason why it was put on hold is only known to the MoM officials," they added. Federation of Indian Placer Mineral Industries President Dr Dhaya Devadas lauded the Tamil Nadu government for granting the precise area permit in just two months and six days, after IREL submitted a fresh application. It is significant, as the previous state government has never before processed applications this quickly, he said.