Thursday, 7 July 2016

V Subramanian Speaks On The Growth Of Heavy Minerals Industry

VV Mineral, one of the largest exporters of beach minerals in India, was founded by  VV Mineral Vaikundarajan in the late 1980s. It has won several national awards for its contribution to the export business. In an interview with Governance Today, V Subramanian speaks on India’s position in the global market and its growth.

Governance Today: What is the size of heavy minerals market in India?

V Subramanian: India has nearly 35% of world deposits but contributes only 4% of global production. The total beach sand resources in India are 942.58 million tonnes comprising of Ilmenite, Zircon, Rutile, Garnet, Sillimanite and Leucoxene.

Governance Today: How much does heavy minerals constitute in the total mining done in India?

V Subramanian: A paltry two per cent of the entire mining is done in India. Although India possesses the world’s largest reserves of heavy mineral sands at 25%-28%, its exploitation is very low at 5%- 6%.

Governance Today: What is the utility of the minerals and how are they important for Indian economy?

V Subramanian: Heavy minerals have a critical application in industries such as electronics, ceramics, pigments, paints, paper, plastics, pharmaceuticals, aerospace and defence. As you can see, they are important for our economy as they contribute to a large number of industries.

Governance Today: What are the major policy bottlenecks that are affecting industry growth despite the scope?

V Subramanian: Private sector gained entry in the market only 3 decades ago. The sector is growing and needs government’s support and backing. Some of the policy bottlenecks responsible holding us back are:

  • Mining and processing clearance is a long procedure with 18 government agencies involved
  • Ministry of Environment and Forest has 30 conditions in place for clearing mining. Some of them are impracticable
  • CRZ requirements are not in favour of beach mineral industry
  • Export licenses are to be renewed every year

Governance Today: What are the opportunities in this sector?

V Subramanian: We have an opportunity to benefit nearly 30,000 crore to the exchequer. The growth of mining industry will be a boost to India’s GDP. Private companies contribute about 5% of the world’s heavy mineral production. With the government’ support, this number can go up to 50% of the world’s production.

Governance Today: Where do you foresee this industry in next five years?

V Subramanian: The industry has a potential to grow up to 30-50 per cent in the next five years.

Governance Today: What is your annual output of heavy minerals each year in India?

V Subramanian: We export close to 7,00,000 tonnes of heavy minerals each year which is valued at Rs 850 crores approximately.

Governance Today: What is the infrastructure of VV Minerals and who are its close competitors?

V Subramanian: VV Mineral owns about 9 Mineral separation plants with each dry plant having its own pre-concentration plants, a huge fleet of trucks and earth moving equipment, 12 warehouses with a storage capacity of 600,000 tonnes, a full-fledged R&D Department, Exploration team with Drill Rig, Centralised laboratory and first of its kind Ship loader (which can load 21,000 tonnes/ day). We have few fellow mineral producers in India, namely Indian Rare Earth (Government of India), Trimex Sands, Indian Ocean Garnet Sands, and few other small companies.

Governance Today: What support do you need for developing heavy minerals mining in India?

VSubramanian: Quick clearance for the mining industry

  • Export incentives that allow India to be a competitive player in global market
  • Restrictive import policy 
  • Simplification in process for MoEF as well as CRZ clearances

Lastly, there is not a single large scale independent mine operating in free market conditions in India. Ironically, the fallout of the restrictions imposed by has resulted in benefiting China which controls 90 per cent of the industry.

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