Monday, 20 June 2016

VV Minerals Denies Charges Of Illegal Monazite Mining
Periyasamypuram in Tuticorin district, Tamil Nadu, has been the centre of storm for last few years, because of the numerous raids conducted on suspicion of illegal beach mining.

On January 23, 2013, a PIL was filed to be heard in the Madras High Court (HC), asking the court to form a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe illegal beach sand mining. The PIL alleged that rare beach sand minerals worth Rs 1 lakh crore have been illegally exported out of the country. The PIL mentions the set of mining licences issued by the Tamil Nadu Geology and Mining Department to VV Minerals based in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. These licences authorise the private company to mine and export monazite.

Monazite is an atomic mineral found in the beach sands of the southern and eastern coasts of the country. Minerals found in the sands of these beaches along with Monazite include Ilmenite, Rutile, Zircon and Garnet. Monazite can be processed to remove Thorium and Uranium, both of which are nuclear fuels. The Tamil Nadu government has approved licences to VV Mineral Mining to mine Monazite. VV Mineral is the largest player in the country in the rare earths space. These approvals were issued by the centre in 2002-03.

VV Minerals India chairman has mentioned a number of times that various committees had probed the area and found no evidence of illegal heavy mineral mining. He denied charges of illegal Monazite mining and exports. "Look at the documents, they are only inclusion of minerals," said VV Mineral.

"The state can include minerals to the original lease. There is no illegality. In fact, we are the only company to have environmental clearances for all our quarries," VV Minerals.

There have also been allegations of environmental and health issues, especially kidney ailments, plaguing the residents living along Tamil Nadu's southern coastline, but there is no substantial information to establish any link between kidney ailments and mining.

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