Thorium: strategic nuclear fuel of India


Executive Summary Strategic minerals: Thorium, titanium in Nuclear country: southern coastline between Cochin and Rameswaram How to destroy the plans for energy independence of India? 1.      Loot the existing reserves of thorium.2.      Create facilities for destruction of placer deposits by making a mid-ocean channel which will act like a funnel for the next tsunami or cyclones and move the placer deposits into the mid-ocean making them virtually impossible or very expensive to retrieve.3.      Establish agents to sell thorium containing sands and also steal thorium from India Rare Earths Limited stockpiles.4.      Establish a channel accessible within 20 kms. from Pulmoddai (near Trincomalee under LTTE control) and from Manavalakurichi so that small vessels from either place can beyond eyesight move the metal containing sands.5.      Have Tata establish a ‘titanium dioxide’ plant to export the paint-making dioxide, instead of extracting titanium metal and thorium metal. This is how Rama Setu, Indo-US nuclear deal and privatisation of mines are all linked to the US Navy operational directive of 23 June 2005 refusing to recognize Gulf of Mannar waters as historic waters but asserting them to be international waters with free access to any foreign ship into the waters devastating the lives of coastal people. Incidentally, the nation’s mineral wealth will be lost even without having a colonial regime looting the minerals of the nation with agents doing the job to suit US geopolitical interests. Hence the mid-ocean channel passage despite Sir Aramaswamy Mudaliar committee’s categorical recommendation to abandon a mid-ocean channel passage. Why not make a land-based canal like Suez or Panama canal close to the nation’s coastline, completely under the nation’s control? Why blast Rama Setu if it is made up of only sand shoals? The expose begins with the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court judgement on August 10, 2007. It is now common knowledge that beach sands are being exported and that these sands contain strategic metals: thorium, titanium. Thorium is strategic for the nation’s nuclear programme; titanium is strategic for the nation’s space programme. These strategic metals should NOT be allowed to be exported in any form or formulation and retained as nation’s reserves for nation’s integrity and energy independence. It is also reliably learnt (Hon’ble Pon. Radhakrishnan ji) that thorium from IREL’s stockpiles is also vanishing. Kalyanaraman 24 August 2007 
Strategic metals and resources of India Jayaram’s article on thorium placers is also confirmed by US Geological Survey at See also:  Vaikundarajan directed to surrender in court
Friday August 10 2007 09:18 IST
MADURAI: Vaikundarajan, owner of V V Minerals and a shareholder of Jaya TV, was on Thursday, directed by the Madurai Bench of the High Court to surrender at Eraniel court. The bench also allowed the police to question him for two days.Vaikundarajan had filed 20 petitions seeking anticipatory bail. The petitions came up for hearing before Justice G Rajasuria.The judge observed that the police had doubts as to where the sand was sent as it contained nuclear deposits.

Vaikundarajan has claimed that he was not aware of the fact that the sand he mined contained nuclear particles. The judge said that the case was significant because of the nuclear content in the sand.   Ilmenite Sand export increased from 0.21 lakh tonnes in 2000-01 to 0.62 lakh tonnes in 2001-02 registering an increase of 195.24%. We are reminded that India is wholly or largely self-sufficient in 26 minerals which constitute primary mineral raw material for industries such as thermal power generation, iron and steel, Ferro-alloys, aluminium cement various types of refractors, china clay-based ceramics, glass, chemicals like caustic soda, soda ash, calcium carbide   fluorine- based chemicals like aluminimum fluoride, cryolite/chloro-fluro-carbons, titania and white pigment. India is by and large, self-sufficient in coal (with the exception of very low ash coking coal required by the steel plants) and lignite among mineral fuels: bauxite, chromate, iron and manganese ores, ilmenite and rutile among metallic minerals: and almost all the industrial minerals with the exception of chrysotile asbestos, borax, kyanite, potash, rock phosphate and elemental sulfur. 17.4 PRODUCTION AND VALUE OF MAJOR MINERALS

Year: 2005-2006 Name of the District (1) Name of the Mineral (2) Quality (Tonne) (3) Value ( ‘000’) (4) Such a treasure resource is being looted systematically by traitors calling themselves sand contractors. Beach Sand Investigations The beach sand minerals comprise  ilmenite, rutile, zircon, monazite, garnet, and sillimanite which occur in different concentrations along various coastal stretches of the country. These mineral resources are investigated  by auger drilling, conrod bunka drilling, dormer drilling and reserves are estimated by mineralogical analysis of both individual and composite samples generated. These resource estimates are incorporated in the preliminary and detailed reports and are made available on request to the Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) and other state government / private entrepreneurs on commercial terms. The Rare Earths Limited have their offices in Manavalakurichi in Tamilnadu and in Aluva and Chavara in Kerala (and also, Sri Lanka, see Sri Lanka Press report of export of monazite, ilmenite sands; see also note on the importance of Pulmoddai thorium sands). Being a government bureaucracy, they may not be very efficient in safeguarding these thorium reserves and in ensuring effective extraction from these sands rapidly. They may not even be aware of the loot ongoing.  Tamil press is full of reports on coastal sand godowns. Recently, there was a report about a prospective Rajyama MP candidate of AIADMK whose properties (coastal sand godowns or warehouses — ) were raided by CID, IT operatives etc.  The coir-rope makers and exporters of the coir ropes of the coastline are encouraged to dip the rope coils in the black sands and more black sands. The foreign buyers treat these dipped sands as more valuable than the ropes themselves :)– Naturally, because one kg. of thorium (black monazite sands in particular) should be as valuable as a couple of crores of rupees.  Vedanta’s billions have been documented (how a scrap metal merchant of Sterling Industries of Mumbai has grown to be an MNC offering one billion US dollars to set up a Vedanta University in Orissa, aha, the coastline of Puri Jagannatha). FM has been a director of Vedanta Resources PLC. This company has been looting mineral resources of Jharkhand, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Bihar. The fall of Jharkhand government was engineered by mineral multi-national conglomerates. The nation’s wealth including diamonds are up for loot by bottling up the Geological Survey of India and privatising the prospective and extraction operations.  

Shreyas Shipping begins operation in Eastern coast
Monday, 07 May , 2007, 10:03
Shreyas Shipping & Logistics Ltd, feeder services and logistics services provider, has announced the start of its operation in the eastern corridor of the country, establishing a supply chain right from Kolkata into Chennai. ”We decided to commence a service for the East Coast as our market research has shown that the volumes on this leg are bound to increase,” company’s Chairman and Managing Director S Ramakrishnan said. Shreyas is the first Indian company to commence a service connecting the Western Coast to Karachi and continues to be the only company running services between India and Pakistan. It leased warehousing facilities at Kandla, Ahmedabad, Cochin and Tuticorin and plans to add similar facilities at other location in Northern and Southern India. It has also made investments in brand new containers to cater to the growing market. During the last fiscal, the company added three container vessels to its fleet, thereby increasing its tonnage by about 50 per cent as compared to the tonnage as on March 31, 2006. The company carried about 15 per cent more exim cargo during the fiscal 2006-07 and improved its logistics volumes by 85 per cent over last year. Mineral sands shipments set to resume
Lanka Mineral Sands is looking to resume bulk shipments from its coastal mine at Pulmoddai on the northeastern seaboa-rd.
The company has called for international tenders for the mineral sands stockpiled in its godowns at Kanijapura in Pulmoddai, officials said.Stocks consist of 60,000 tonnes of ilmenite, 60,000 tonnes of crude zircon and about 1,000 tonnes of rutile.The company has had to stop mining because all the godowns at Pulmoddai are full. The stockpiles built up after bulk shipments were suspended in September 1997 when the Sea Tigers sank a bulk carrier filled with ilmenite. Since then, small quantities of rutile and crude zircon brought by road have been exported in 40-kg bags through Colombo port mostly to China, India and the United Kingdom.Mineral sands at the Pulmoddai mine are known to be rich in ilmenite, monazite, rutile and zircon.Lanka Mineral Sands expects to resume shipments with the end of the north-east monsoon around mid-April. Shipments are not possible during the monsoon months because Pulmoddai does not have a sheltered anchorage. The sand is taken by barge and loaded on to vessels anchored offshore. Sandy treasures of PulmoddaiKanijapura, Pulmoddai – The godowns are full at the Lanka Mineral Sands Ltd processing plant in this remote corner of north-eastern Sri Lanka. The black sand that covers the beach – rich with heavy minerals – has not been mined for

Titanium – strategic metal of high value
Ilmenite is used to make titanium metal, a strategic metal valued for its high strength and light-weight. Titanium is as strong as steel, can withstand very high temperatures and is non-corrosive. Its high strength-to-weight ratios make titanium ideal for high-performance military aircraft and rockets, space capsule skins, armour plate, aircraft firewalls, jet engine components, landing gears, submarines, and engine parts (as an alloy). At one point during the height of the Cold War in the mid-1980s, Moscow stopped exports of titanium when large quantities of the metal were required to build Alfa class attack submarine hulls. Titanium is used to make paint, paper and plastic. Its properties ensure that exposure to sunlight does not alter its very white colour. It is also used in desalination plants. “Titanium is regarded as the metal of the future,” said Nandadeva. “The industrial world cannot do without it and there is no substitute for it.”Rutile is mainly used in the titanium metal industry and in welding rods while zircon is in demand in the ceramic industry for high quality glazing, foundries, and electrical items.

Rich deposit
The Pulmoddai deposit is four and a half miles long and 600 metres wide. Mining starts around February from the Arisimalai end of the deposit on the southern side and ends in October at the northern end towards Kokilai. The processing plants and godowns along with the beach deposit covers 108 acres. The beach deposit is mined using an excavator dragline. Raw sand is washed and screened to remove trash and shell fragments and put through a series of concentrators to separate the heavy minerals. The usual concentration of heavy minerals is 40 percent, said Nandadeva. But if the deposit is left untouched for long periods it gets upgraded or enriched to as much as 80 percent by fresh sand brought ashore by the sea. Mining must be systematically done with a gradient left for fresh sand to be deposited. Raw sand is first upgraded in a process known as gravity separation. The ilmenite that is produced is processed further using a magnetic separator and then put through a high tension separator – where a current of 22,000 volts is sent through the sand – to remove rutile. What remains is called crude zircon The minerals are taken from the godowns on a conveyor belt fixed onto the 800-foot jetty and then discharged into barges. The loaded barges are towed by tugs to bulk carriers anchored offshore, the draught at the jetty not being deep enough for the vessels to come alongside. It takes several days to fill a bulk carrier at the rate of about 2,000 tonnes every 24 hours. Repairs to the conveyor belt and jetty are almost complete and the plant is getting ready to resume bulk shipments before the monsoon breaks. The company has three tugs and 10 barges, which it plans to repair as they have been being laid up at Cod Bay, Trincomalee for several years.

almost five years – ever since Sea Tigers sank a bulk carrier loaded with a cargo of ilmeniteabout a mile offshore. The Pulmoddai beach deposit, where one can virtually walk on money, has two characteristics that make it unique – the mineral sands get replenished with every monsoon and the sand has a heavy mineral content that far exceed that of deposits elsewhere in the world. “Now that the godowns are full we want to sell the accumulated stocks and resume bulk shipments,” S. A. Nandadeva, general manager of the company told a team of Sunday Times Business journalists during a recent visit. A huge mound of black ilmenite sand sits silently in one of the plant’s cavernous godowns, disturbed only by bats that have made it their home. Another mound of white-coloured crude zircon lies in the open outside, being dried with the use of a front-end loader. Stocks consist of 60,000 tonnes of ilmenite and 150,000 tonnes of crude zircon. Another product – rutile – is being exported in 40-kg bags through the Colombo port. About 5,000 tonnes have been shipped in this manner and another 2,000 tonnes remain in stock. North-east monsoon
Pulmoddai does not have a sheltered anchorage and no shipments are possible during the north-east monsoon, which usually blows from October to March, when the seas can get very rough. No mining is done either. It is during this period that sand washed ashore by heavy waves renews the beach deposit.
“The conditions here are right for the sand to be washed ashore,” said Nandadeva. “There is no erosion.” A little headland separates the beach deposit from Arisimalai, which is also an interesting little beach with white sand that looks like grains of rice. Nandadeva’s studies indicate that the tides and currents of the area and the way they are shaped by the headland create the peculiar conditions under which the sand that is mined is replenished in an annual cycle. “The sand containing heavy minerals gets concentrated owing to wave action,” explained Nandadeva. “The light sand gets washed away leaving the heavy minerals.” Beach deposits in Australia, a big producer of minerals, have concentrations of only around five percent. The Pulmoddai site is rated as one of the best in the world with a heavy mineral content of 60-70 percent, making Lanka Mineral Sands one of the world’s low cost mineral sand producers. This means that up to 70 tonnes of heavy minerals can be recovered from 100 tonnes of raw sand. “This mine is supposed to be the richest in the world,” said Nandadeva. The main deposit consists of around 60 percent ilmenite, eight percent rutile and 8-10 percent zircon. Mahaweli
Surveys commissioned by the company indicate that the heavy minerals actually come from the island’s interior, being washed down from the central massif by rivers such as the Mahaweli, as well as the Yan Oya. Heavy minerals are released when igneous (volcanic) rock gets eroded by rain and wind – a process that takes millions of years. Recent studies have given rise to a belief that the volumes of heavy minerals that get washed down from the central hills have diminished with the damming of the Mahaweli.
The company has mined only a limited area in Pulmoddai – the first deposit that was surveyed in 1971 with the help of the Geological Survey Department. This revealed a heavy mineral content of 3.7 million tonnes with a cut off grade of 30 percent. At the present rate of mining, these reserves are estimated to last for about 25-30 years. Other deposits found in subsequent surveys between Mullaithivu and Nilaveli have remained untouched. These are Kokilai and Nayaru, north of Pulmoddai, and Paduvaikaddu and Thavikallu, south of the plant. Surveys, both onshore and offshore, have estimated that there are more than 12 million tonnes of heavy minerals in Pulmoddai, Kokilai, Nayaru and Mullaithivu. The plant has a capacity of 150,000 tonnes of ilmenite, 10,000 tonnes of rutile and 6,000 tonnes of zircon. Annual production is 80,000 tonnes of ilmenite, 7,000 tonnes of rutile, and 7,000 tonnes of zircon. Production of zircon was stopped after the LTTE blasted the fresh water plant at Yan Oya that supplied water to wash the minerals. Royalty
The company pays royalty to the government for the mining rights and was the most profitable among the companies under the Industries Ministry at the time. The main markets for the heavy minerals are in Japan and Europe. The company usually sells to traders and is not aware of the ultimate end-user of its minerals. Ilmenite is sold for around $70 a tonne FOB, rutile for $400 a tonne FOB and zircon $500 a tonne FOB.
“There’s a lot of interest among foreign buyers and investors,” Nandadeva said. “We wanted to have a joint venture to make titanium dioxide pigment or synthetic rutile (convert ilmenite to rutile grade which fetches a higher price) and convert zircon to ceramic grade.” Five firms showed interest but said they would come in only when there’s a durable peace. The joint venture plant was to have been between Pulmoddai and Trincomalee from where shipments were to take place throughout the year. Workers at the plant went through very tough and dangerous times during the war, being virtually surrounded by LTTE-held territory. They could not venture out of the premises at night, and even during the day finding transport was difficult, said Wasantha Anurakumara, the plant’s administration officer. Power supplies were disrupted for long periods, as were telephone services. An army unit was always stationed at the site and came under repeated attack. The army dominated the area during the day and the Tigers prowled at night. The workforce of 340 on the site is made up of all three communities and they enjoy free housing and basic amenities. Another 80 workers are in Cod Bay, Trincomalee where the floating craft are stationed. LTTE agents
It is an open secret that there are LTTE agents or sympathisers among the staff on the site. The rebels, however, never made any attempt to destroy the plant. They only disrupted production by blasting the Yan Oya fresh water supply plant and put an end to bulk shipments by attacks on merchant shipping.
The LTTE had previously warned merchant shipping to stay away on the grounds that it considered the mineral wealth on the shores of Pulmoddai to be part of the natural resources of their “homeland” and an important source of foreign exchange for their projected separate state. Conditions at the Pulmoddai plant have improved since the cease-fire came into effect. The nearby town – hardly more than a sleepy village – bustles when dozens of lorries come from Colombo and Negombo to collect fish. Fishermen can go out to sea now that the ban on fishing has been relaxed under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding between the government and the LTTE. At night, a string of lights from fishing craft can be seen on the horizon. Sea Tiger craft have been seen speeding past, hugging the coast. Bulk shipments of ilmenite ceased in September 1997 when Sea Tigers sank the bulk carrier, M.V. Cordiality. By then the company’s godowns were full and it had stopped producing heavy minerals, there being no place to store the product. The ship was supposed to carry 30,000 tonnes of ilmenite to Europe. “We had filled the holds with 29,000 tonnes of ilmenite worth Rs. 90 million and were expecting to finish loading within another 10 hours when the ship was attacked,” recalled Nandadeva. Midnight strike
Sea Tigers struck shortly after midnight. Nandadeva was woken up by a telephone call from the jetty and was told that firing could be heard from the ship which was anchored about a mile offshore. Navy boats had been patrolling the waters near the vessel and sailors dropping grenades into the water to deter LTTE scuba divers.
“From my bungalow I could see the ship. There were no lights except for one on the mast. Usually the ship is lit up like a small town.” Five minutes later he saw a flash – a huge fireball – and then heard the blast. Later he found that the Tigers had boarded the vessel, entered the captain’s cabin and told him to evacuate the ship’s crew as well as the stevedores – there had been 60 casual labourers on board – saying that they had planted explosives in the vessel. The chief engineer and four crew members who were down in the engine room, were killed along with eight employees of the company and six soldiers guarding the vessel. The vessel continued to burn into the next day. The wreck can still be seen, its cranes sticking out of the water. The company wants to clear the wreck to make way for shipments to resume. The company was originally called Ceylon Mineral Sands Corporation and was set up under an act of parliament in 1957. The first shipment of ilmenite went to Ishihara Sangyo Kaisha Ltd of Japan in 1962. There is even a road at the site named Ishihara, which makes titanium pigment and helped set up the plant. In 1976 an integrated ilmenite/rutile/zircon plant was built at Pulmoddai to process all products. A lifetime spent with Lanka Mineral Sands
Muhammad Nassar, chairman of Lanka Mineral Sands, refers to the company’s general manager S.A. Nandadeva as the father of the mineral sands plant.
Nandadeva joined as a graduate trainee in 1969 and stayed on site even during the worst of times, when many others left. He studied mining and minerals processing engineering in England and went to Australia for practical training. “At the time it was a very small plant – processing only ilmenite – with a capacity of 40,000 tonnes,” Nandadeva recalled. He rose through the ranks, becoming mining engineer, assistant plant manager, project engineer, plant manager and finally general manager in 1986. One of the memorable incidents he recalled during his time at the site was when the Yan Oya water supply plant was attacked by the LTTE in 1986. None of the 30 employees at the site was harmed. Nandadeva and several others went on bicycles to the site and found staff hiding in the jungle. Later, an elderly villager told him that the LTTE had noted him. On another visit to Yan Oya he was stopped and questioned by the LTTE. Nandadeva said resident staff has always lived in hope that things would get better. Before the outbreak of the Eelam war, and even during the war years, workers enjoyed good pay and bonuses as mineral shipments invariably generated healthy profits. But many qualified and skilled people left the plant as the war dragged on, conditions deteriorated and finally production ceased. Nandadeva said he stuck it out at Pulmoddai because of the commitment he had towards his work, fellow workers and the company. “I was fortunate to receive a lot of training and was given many responsibilities,” he said. “I would not otherwise have got such opportunities.” He turned down offers of two jobs and stayed on at the plant despite the objections of his wife because of what he felt were his obligations to the company. Having spent a lifetime at Pulmoddai – more than 30 years – Nandadeva looks forward to the day when the company makes value-added products instead of just shipping minerals sand in bulk. “My dream is to make synthetic rutile – an upgraded feedstock that is much in demand,” he said, adding that the company wants to get into a joint venture with a technology provider. Sunday Times – June 23, 2002http:// If you go to the southern area, you can  see valuable minerals  glittering along with the sand in different colours. Three-hundred-fifty years ago the East India Company established the Rare Earth Company  at Manavalakurichy which is still working very well.  Then at Chavara in Kerala, there is another big factory of the Rare Earth Company which is working very well.  In Orissa also there is one factory.  All these factories come under the public sector. These factories which were started by the East India Company are now under the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India.  In the Rare Earth Company In my district Manavalakurichy,  there are 600 workers and thousands of fishermen are engaged as part-time workers to collect sand on contract basis.  They are earning good profit and the mineral resources are being utilised properly.  After this Bill is passed, the private enterprises will have an opportunity to enter into this business.  Here I have got strong reservation.  The coast is very important, considering the defence of the country, considering that crores of people live around this area, considering that fish is  the major source of food for the people who live in that area.  Therefore, we must be very careful.   We should  adopt a cautious approach.  There should be some mechanism in the Bill to protect the interest of these people.         Thorium, monazite, ilimenite, rutile , zircon are available in plenty the Western Coast as well as in the Eastern Coast.   PROF. M.SANKARALINGAM (CONTD):  So, these should be utilised and we should encourage the people to utilise all these minerals.  But, it should be in the public sector; that is my firm view.  When you open it to the private sector, it will create so many problems and that too when the shareholders are foreigners.  That will be detrimental to our safety also.  In this connection, I also want to bring to your knowledge the recent judgement of the Supreme Court by the then hon. Chief Justice of India, Shri B.N.Kirpal, who, on his last day in office, banned any private concerns in the mining sector.  You see, the Government of Delhi approached the High Court and then Supreme Court to ban mining activity in the Aravalli Hills, near Delhi which harmed the supply of  drinking water.  So, Shri B.N.Kirpal, on his last day in office, justified the concern of the Delhi Government and said that the involvement of private firms in mining activity is not good, since they have interest in making profits. This was the judgement — I quote:        “We prohibit and ban all mining activity in the entire Aravalli Hills.  The ban is not limited to hills encircling water to Alampur villages, but extends to the entire hill range of Aravalli from Haryana to Rajasthan.” Many of our hon. Members here said that the State’s share in the royalty will be affected.  It has appeared in the newspapers that Haryana Government is going to contest the case before the court because they are losing Rs.50 lakhs every day.  So, opening the private sector is very dangerous, especially in this field.  With these words, I conclude.  SHRI N.K.PREMACHANDRAN: You support or oppose the Bill?THE VICE-CHAIRMAN: Shrimati Indiraji.  You have four minutes… Then, what is the purpose of bringing forward this Bill?  Because minerals, like Monazite, Ilmenite, Rutile, Zircon, Sillimanite and other minerals have to be exploited from the offshore.  So, the very specific purpose according to the Bill is for the exploration of the minerals including the atomic energy, including atomic minerals which are being specifically stated in clause (g) of sub-section (l) of  section 2 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1962.  Sir, we are having the Atomic Energy Act of 1962.  And the exploitation of minerals is also being regulated by Mines and Minerals Regulation and Development Act of 1957 which has been mentioned by Shrimati Indira, just now.  That Act is also there.  And exploitation of the atomic minerals are being governed by these two Acts and some other Acts and rules which are also connected therewith.  So, exploitation of these minerals on the offshore area is very costly.  For offshore exploitation, offshore mining, a high technique is required, huge investment is required.  It is very difficult.  Sir, my humble submission before this House is, we are having ample minerals on the beach sand.    Sir, I am coming from the State of Kerala particularly on the coastal      stand of Koilore, which has been  mentioned by Prof. Sankaralingam, that Chavara has the richest deposit of minerals in the world.  The concentrate of  Ilmenite, Titanium di-oxide  is 60-65 per cent and this is a resource which can be described as the  God’s gift.  It is there on the coastal shore of Quilon, Chavra upto Karungapillai and a big controversy is going on regarding the mining privatisation.  Regarding mining and mineral separation of Ilmenite a big controversy is going between the State of Kerala and the Rare Earth Ltd.  That is another fact.  At the same time, this Bill is being brought forward. I very reasonably suspect that this is a statutory mechanism to privatise this beach and sand minerals also.  Because if you are having an offshore technology to mine these minerals on the offshore, in the territorial waters or the continental shelf, then, a huge investment is required and these minerals are coming on to the shore also.  When the waves are coming along with water, these minerals are coming to the beach in the form of sand.  It is coming to the beach and  getting accumulated and this is a natural wealth.  When this is being exploited with the help of our technology, then, what is the meaning and what is the real intention of this Bill in exploiting these minerals on the offshore?  Is it  technically feasible? Is it economically viable?  These should be looked into.  That is why I suspect, I reasonably apprehend that this Bill would help the private companies and the multi-national companies indirectly in exploiting the minerals on the beach which come in the form of sand. That is my reasonable apprehension which I would like to make here… SHRI N.K. PREMACHANDRAN (contd.): Secondly, there is a law called the Mines and Minerals Development Act, 1957. Very specific provisions have been made in that about the lease rights to be given. The right to give the mining lease was completely vested with the State Government. My question to the hon. Minister is: What is the opinion of the Government of India on this? As per the Act of 1957, in respect of mineral lease to ilmenite or monazite or whatever it may be, the exclusive right to issue the mineral mining lease is with the State Government.        What does the present Bill say? According to this Bill, the mining lease, whether it is in the nature of a reconnaissance permit or exploration licence or production lease, would be awarded by the Administering Authority, which would be appointed by the Government of India. Then, what is the role of the State Government?        In the Atomic Energy Act, the Industrial Policy Resolution Policy, 1991, and subsequently the Policy on Beach-sand Minerals, 1998, in all these, the rights of the State Government, to issue a mining lease, is not taken away. Now it is taken away. Why is it so? This is against the federal principles also. Whether it is territorial waters or the continental shelf, whatever it may be, it would be within the perimeters of a State; the exploration work or whatever work, which would be executed, would be done using the infrastructure of the State concerned. When that is the case, is there any role for the State Government now? The State Government will have no role, as far as the issuance of the mining lease is concerned! Not only regarding the mining lease, but with regard to royalty also. The State Government would not get any royalty. In the existing policy regime, there is an equitable share of the royalty. Even in the exploitation of the beach-sand minerals also, the royalty is bestowed upon the State Government, because the State Government is issuing the mining lease. Therefore, the State Government is entitled to receive the royalty also.        According to this Bill, the State Government will have no royalty; as it has no right to issue the mining lease, it has no right to receive the royalty also. It is very clearly said in the recommendations of the Eleventh Finance Commission, regarding the mining of minerals and royalty, that the State concerned should adequately be given the royalty, or that should be enhanced. That is the recommendation of the Eleventh Finance Commission. But by way of this Bill, you are taking away the right of issuing the mining lease or licence to a particular company for mining operations. Not only that, the provision of the right to get the royalty is taken away under this Bill. That is why I am opposing this Bill.        I would like to mention some other points also. The minerals of monazite, ilmenite, rutile, silimenite, zircon and kyanite, are considered as strategic minerals. But I do agree with the argument that it is being liberalised. In 1991, by way of the Industrial Policy Resolution, selective entry of the private sector was allowed. Subsequently, under the policy on the Beach-Sand Minerals, 1998, even the private companies and the foreign companies can have equity participation up to 74%. On that policy change, too, I agree. I appreciate one thing: The Minister has excluded the foreign companies from this field by virtue of this Bill. According to clauses 5 and 6, any foreign company is not entitled to have these reconnaissance permit, exploration licence, and production lease. They are not entitled to have these. I appreciate the Minister and the Government on this count. They have kept the security of the country in mind, at least. What is happening, as per the Beach-Sand Mineral Policy? As a result of all these things, as Mr. Sankaralingam pointed out, privatisation has started. As he points out, in Tamil Nadu, the privatisation practice has already begun. In Kerala also, such a move is underway. We are strongly opposing it, because the public sector undertakings–the Indian Rare Earths Limited and the Kerala Metals and Minerals Corporation–which are the two PSUs doing pioneering work in the country, have the best technology in the world, with better productivity. These two establishments are being run with huge profits. Not only these. Even in Orissa, a mineral separation plant is being run and that too is making wonderful profits. Manavalapura unit is also running on profit. But, Sir, it is very pitiable to say that now the Government of India has made a policy on the beachsand…(Interruptions) KLS/3A-3.40SHRI N.K. PREMACHANDRAN (CONTD): Sir, I am concluding. Now the Government of India has come out with a policy to privatise it.  There is a very interesting point to be noted.  Sir, the Indian Rare-earth is a monopoly concern.  It has the best technology and all other things.  Now a private company, which is based in Cochin, does not have the technology but is having a joint venture.  An MoU has been signed.  The MoU has been signed for what — it is not for the value addition products, it is not for diversification of the industry, but it is only to make the same product ilmenite from the mineral wealth and 1.05 lakh tonnes of ilmenite has been dumped in the godowns of IRE, Chavara and 1.50 lakh tonne of ilmenite has been dumped in Orissa.  It has been dumped at the plant of Manavala Kurichy also.  There is no market for the ilmenite that we produce.  At the same time, a public sector enterprise which is running in profit with a better productivity and good profit is being made to enter into an agreement with a little known private company to produce the same product with the technology of that public sector undertaking and by using the market network of that public sector undertaking.  Mere share of this private company is coming.  Sir, definitely, it is a concern of the State and the country as a whole because of its thorium which is used in the preparation of nuclear bombs.  Monozite and some other elements are also derived from it which are connected to it.  As far as security of the country and the  environmental aspects are concerned, they have to be looked into.  Even now the people of the coastal area have an apprehension that this sea erosion, regular sea erosion is taking place because of this mining.   Therefore, I am seeking clarification from the hon. Minister on the real intention of the Bill.  In the beach sand mining all these minerals are very easily and richly available, which can be exploited in a very, very easy way throughout the country.  With these observations, I oppose the Bill once again. (Ends)SHRI RAVI SHANKAR PRASA): Sir, I am extremely grateful to the hon. Members for a very enlightening debate on this Bill.  Except the caution of my friend, Premchandranji, there was a rare unanimity among all the sections of this House.   All the hon. Members have supported this Bill.  They have understood the need of this Bill.  Some of the concerns which have been raised, Sir, I would like to respond to them.  Sir, first Varmaji and other friends mentioned, ‘why so late?’  Sir, they have a point.  I do concede.  I would only remind them that even before we ratified the law of Sea Convention, we had come on the job.  In the year 1993 itself, as I told you, we established the Working Group.  Some of the concerns, which have been stated about security, about environment and  fishing rights, enjoined upon us a very wide range of consultation.  Therefore, for close to six years, we had consultations with as many as 11 Ministries – Defence, Environment and Forest, External Affairs, Atomic Energy, Animal Husbandry and others.  Therefore, in the light of the wide ranging consultations which we had over the years, some delay can certainly be condoned and better late than never.  Some fundamental questions were raised by Mr. Premachandran as to why this Bill, when MMDR Act is there.  Sir, I need not remind the hon. Member that MMDR Act, 1957 covers the minerals on the ground.  Therefore, it is a very specific Act dealing with the regulation, development and exploitation of minerals available on the ground.  And that right is available to the State Governments.  He need not bother about the minerals and mineral sand pertaining to beaches of the coastal States.  It does not fall within the ambit of this Bill.  That would remain the property of the State Governments.  Here, Sir, the whole objective of the Bill talks very specifically and let me just read it for a moment to clarify the position.  It says, “to provide development and regulation of mineral resources in the territorial waters, continental shelf as well as the Exclusive Economic Zones.’  These three expressions are very important wherein regulation is required and they are beyond.  Therefore, in the beginning, I talked about 12 nautical miles.  Sir, I can only repeat that.  I have very specifically stated as to what is the meaning of the continental shelf and what the mining of the Exclusive Zones is. (Contd by 3B)NBR/3C-1/3.45.SHRI RAVI SHANKAR PRASAD (CONTD.): What is the meaning of the Exclusive Economic Zone?  And, what is the meaning of territorial waters — 12 nautical miles, 24 nautical miles and 200 nautical miles?  Therefore, I would request Mr. Premachandran not at all to be concerned, as far as the rights of the State Government for mineral sand or any other mineral available on the ground are concerned.  This Bill does not encroach upon that.  It has been mentioned that there will be an overlapping of the Petroleum Act.  Sir, the Petroleum Act is separate.  There is a separate mechanism for that.  We do not come under that.  And, it does not come in our way.  Therefore, there is no possibility of any overlapping.  I wish to assure the hon. Members that the rules are yet to be framed.  Many of the concerns expressed today would be embodied in the rules which will be extensive.  And, even at the time of framing of rules, we would, certainly, hold a wide-range of consultations so that all concerns are suitably addressed.  Now, I come to specific nature of objections raised. They are, basically, three.  The first one is the national security.  The second one is environmental concern.  And the third one is the fishing rights.  These three are the concerns expressed by the hon. Members.  Before I develop on these points, may I say that this is the only kind of legislation wherein we have arrogated to ourselves certain extraordinary rights because of the very sensitive nature of the areas that this Bill cover.  What is that?  We have arrogated to ourselves the power for a premature termination.  We have given to ourselves the power to close the mining area itself.  With your kind permission, I would like to read two clauses which Smt. Indira indicated.  This is about the Termination of Operation Right.  I am reading clause 7 of the Bill.  It says, “Where the Central Government, after consultation with the administering authority, is of the opinion that it is expedient in the interest of development and regulation of offshore mineral resources, preservation of natural environment and prevention of pollution, avoidance of danger to public health or communication, ensuring safety of any offshore structure….the Central Government may prematurely terminate any operation….”  This is not there in the MMDR Act, 1957.  It is a new power that we provided to ourselves.  Secondly, clause 9 deals with power to close areas.  Even after granting the concession, we can close a particular area by saying because of the possible danger that we are experiencing, in this particular area, we are closing it.  These two careful measures we have taken.         Sir, Mr. Premachandran has talked about the atomic energy and all that.  His concerns are also suitably addressed in the Bill itself.  Sir, may I read Clause 5, which deals with the Power of Concession?  It says, “Provided that nothing in this sub-section shall apply to any reconnaissance operation or exploration operation undertaken by the Geological Survey of India, Atomic Minerals Directorate of Exploration and Research, the Chief Hydrographer to the Government of India of Naval Hydrographic Office of the Indian Navy….”  Therefore, these are the exceptions carved out; whereunder, whether it is atomic energy, whether it is ocean development, whether it is Navel Hydrography, GSI, etc., all have been given a complete exception that their activity shall be an exception to this particular provision.  Sir, now, my very esteemed, hon. friend, Smt. Indira, talked about the penalty — the civil liability.  I wish to assure her that some of her concerns, which she expressed, would find response in the rules.  Kindly wait for the rules to be framed.  Whether it is civil liability or the criminal liability, these are all described in the rules.  Therefore, rules will explain all these.  But, Sir, kindly see the kind of heavy penalty we have proposed.  There is a provision that in case there is a violation of general terms of condition, the minimum penalty is Rs. 10 lakhs and the same may be increased to Rs. 1 crore.  Kindly see the range.  This kind of penalty is unheard of.  Secondly, in the case of specific violation, in terms of license, the penalty would be Rs. 5 lakhs and the imprisonment is for five years.  Therefore, we have taken the maximum precaution that is needed.  Now, it was stated as to what is the hidden agenda behind this Bill.  I wish to assure Shri Premachandran that there is no hidden agenda.  It is absolutely transparent.  It is absolutely clear.  It has been brought forth here after the widest possible consultations.  Yes.  We have taken care to ensure that multinationals do not have any entry.  Sir, to make these provisions applicable, a person has to be an Indian and it has to be a company registered under the Companies Act, with other adequate safeguards.  Therefore, we have taken the maximum possible safeguards to ensure that nothing goes wrong.  Why are we going in for this? (CONTD. BY “3D”)USY/3D/3.50SHRI RAVI SHANKAR PRASAD (CONTD.):  Again, I come to the question of Mr. Premachandran, raised by him in the very beginning.  The brilliant scientists of the Marine Wing of the Geological Survey of India, whom I wish to salute today, have over the years, with their great exploration, identified these wonderful minerals, pertaining to our coastal areas, which are lying in the seabed.  Now, we need that all the Members, cutting across the party lines, recognise that there is a great potential for exploitation of these minerals.  Therefore, we are doing it.  But they are very costly.  Exploitation of these minerals, from beneath the seabed, is a very costly proposition.  Therefore, we have to ensure that we have a mechanism, whereunder investment comes out with due safeguards.  We have, therefore, taken all those cares.         Mr. Chavan mentioned about the Regulator.  I do understand his concern. As of now, the Comptroller General of the Indian Bureau of Mines shall be the Regulator.  He is a statutory authority.  All the mining plans are sanctioned by him.  He has a wide-ranging office at his disposal.  Therefore, he would certainly be there.  We will also, with experience, see as to how some of the concerns, addressed by you, can suitably be satisfied.        Now, Sir, I come to the last point, that is, the rights of the State Governments.  I do appreciate the concern raised by Shri Jibonbabu, Mr. Reddy and Smt. Indiraji.  That is certainly there.  But, today, there was a very interesting thing.  A large number of Members, who spoke today, were lawyers.  Therefore, I do understand their legal background as well; and, their legal background would certainly indicate to them that article 297 of the Constitution  which came into being in the year 1976, –who was in power, then, I need not say — clearly says that all the mineral resources, beneath the seabed, belong to the Government of India.  Therefore, if you want any sharing, first of all, you will have to have an amendment. That is the point, I am trying to make.  The State minerals are the property of the State Governments.  We welcome that.  In fact, one of the major initiatives that we have taken in the Government of India, after it came to power, is to decentralise the mineral regime in a way that as much as maximum powers go to the State Governments.  Permits, leasing, time-framing, in respect of all that we have done it.  But as far as these minerals, under the seabed, are concerned, that is a right, which, under the Constitution, is available to the Government of India.  Therefore, so long as article 297 exists, it will not be possible for any sharing of royalty, or other part.  However, when you talk about the fishing rights, let me clarify that fishing is not done very deep.  It is done at the most at 10-20 feet depth.  Mineral resources are 100 feet, 1000 feet, deep and  so on.  But, even otherwise, we have ensured that whenever any particular block is to be given, it shall done only after consultations with the Department of Animal Husbandry and the Department of Fisheries.  Therefore, that consultation process would be there.  (Interruptions)  It will come in the rules.  Therefore, Sir, whenever we consult the Department of Animal Husbandry of the Government of India, I am sure, they would have the feedback from the State Governments as well.  Therefore, the process of consultation will certainly go on.  But, as far as sharing of royalty is concerned…..(Interruptions)  I have already told you that when we would consult the Ministry of Environment, Mr. Baalu is here, it has got the inputs from the State Governments.  When we consult the Department of Fisheries and the Department of Animal Husbandry, they do have the inputs from the State Governments.  (Interruptions) SHRI JIBON ROY:  Therefore, it would be in the wisdom of the Government in power. SHRI RAVI SHANKAR PRASAD:  No; no.  Sir, I would request the hon. Member that this being a Bill futuristic in nature, let us allow it to come  into being; let the rules be framed; let investments come about.  I don’t agree with some of the Members who ask how investments will come.  I wish to inform Mr. Chavan that I have been the Minister of Mines and Coals for the last one year.  A large number of people have made queries as to when this Bill is going to come about.  They are Indian, having experience.  Therefore, we trust that this particular opening up would bring in good investment.  We shall make due safeguards.  With these words, Sir, I commend that the Bill be passed. SHRI PRANAB MUKHERJEE:  Sir, I would like to make an observation during the Third Reading, not now. SHRI N.K. PREMACHANDARAN:  Sir, I would like to seek one clarification.  My main apprehension is that the beads and mineral deposits are being taken away by the offshore exploitation.  This has been coming from beneath the sea to the seashore.  That can easily be exploited from the seashore by using the present technology.  Therefore, my specific question is, why we should go to seabed to exploit minerals? And, if that is being done, definitely, the rich deposits on the seashore will be diminished.  That is my apprehension. (Followed by 3e)VP/3.55/3DSHRI RAVI SHANKAR PRASAD:  In spite of being a Leftist, he talked of God’s gift, in his initial argument.  I wish to say that God has given us enough beneath the sea and also on the ground.  Please have patience; God’s gift on the ground will not be dislocated by exploration under the sea.  THE VICE CHAIRMAN (SHRI SANTOSH BAGRODIA):  Now, the question is:  ‘That the Bill to provide for development and regulation of mineral resources in the territorial waters, continental shelf, exclusive economic zone and other maritime zones of India and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto, as passed by Lok Sabha, be taken into consideration.’   The motion was adopted THE VICE CHAIRMAN:  Now,  we shall take up the clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill.

  Thorium and titanium metals are extracted principally from monazie, ilmenite, rutile (garnet) placer deposits (beach sands). Sand godowns have come up since privatisation of mines in 2002. One VI Minerals reportedly has a licence for exploitation of minerals in 1000 acres of leased area. This is the area where 16,000 acres are sought to be obtained for the Titanium dioxide plant of Tatas.Importance of Thorium for Bharat         From BARC website: Thorium deposits – ~ 3,60,000 tonnes          The currently known Indian thorium reserves amount to 358,000 GWe-yr of electrical energy and can easily meet the energy requirements during the next century and beyond. (Thorium reserves can generate 400,000 MW electricity per year for the next 389 years).         India’s vast thorium deposits permit design and operation of U-233 fuelled breeder reactors.          These U-233/Th-232 based breeder reactors are under development and would serve as the mainstay of the final thorium utilization stage of the Indian nuclear programme. the latest report published on August 2, 2007, Dr Baldev Raj, an internationally acclaimed metallurgist, said that the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre at Trombay near Mumbai has been doing research into Thorium based reactors for the last 50 years. “As of today, no other country in the world is doing any research on thorium based reactors as they do not have adequate thorium reserves,” Dr Raj added. Bharatam is the only country which has the technological expertise and resources to create and run a thorium-based reactor. “We have the design and the technology to install a 300 MW thorium based reactor. It is going through the process of regulatory clearance. We will start work on it in the eleventh plan period. And we hope to complete the work within seven years,” Dr Baldev Raj , director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam said on Thursday, August 2, 2007.  This breakthrough in atomic research adds to the importance of conserving and protecting thorium reserves of the nation, as national treasure to be sustained for present and future generations. The Setu channel project should be immediately reviewed with particular reference to this aspect of accumulation and controlled extraction of thorium reserves for the nation’s atomic energy programme.  Manavalankurichi in Tamilnadu, Aluva and Chavara in Kerala and Chatrapur in Orissa possess the world’s largest reserves of thorium (monazite and ilmenite minerals which also yield another high-value metal, titanium). These must be declared as strategic mineral reserves and subject to rigorous safeguarding by Govt. of India as a top-priority security imperative.  The amendments made to the Mines Act in 2000 which permitted private mining licenses, should be reviewed and revised immediately to exclude these strategic minerals from privatised mining operations in view of their importance for the nation’s strategic nuclear programme.  Chennai: July 27, 2007 India’s former president A.P.J Abdul Kalam returned to a profession he likes the most a day after he demitted office on Thursday (July 26).

Kalam interacted with the students and faculty members of southern Anna 
University in Chennai, capital city of Tamil Nadu state.
Credited with substantial contribution to India's missile technology, Kalam on Thursday said the country should go for thorium-based nuclear reactors to feed the energy hungry economy. 
    "India has to go nuclear generation in a big way using thorium-based
research reactors. Thorium, of course, is a non-fissile material for research available in abundance in our country. Intensive research is essential for converting thorium for maximizing its utilization for electricity generation through thorium-based reactors," Kalam said. 
's nuclear power capacity of 14 reactors is presently 3900 MW.
It is expected to go to 7400 MW by 2010 with the completion of nine
reactors, which are now in progress.  1st thorium unit in India soon   Chennai, Aug 2: India is on the verge of setting up the world’s first Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) which uses thorium as fuel. “We have the design and the technology to install a 300 MW thorium based reactor . It is going through the process of regulatory clearance. We will start work on it in the eleventh plan period. And we hope to complete the work within seven years,” Dr Baldev Raj , director, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam said on Thursday. In an exclusive interview with this newspaper, Dr Baldev Raj , an internationally acclaimed metallurgist, said that the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre at Trombay near Mumbai has been doing research into Thorium based reactors for the last 50 years. He explained that India was the only country with adequate reserves of thorium to make the use of the reactors based on it viable financially.“As of today, no other country in the world is doing any research on thorium based reactors as they do not have adequate thorium reserves,” Dr Raj added. This would be a major technological achievement for the country as thorium based reactors would see the completion of India’s nuclear fuel cycle, according to him.The first stage of India’s nuclear programme saw pressurized heavy water reactors which created plutonium. “The Fast Breeder Reactors coming up at Kalpakkam and other places will use this plutonium as fuel. This in turn will help us build up an inventory of Uranium- 233 which could be used along with Thorium-232 to run the thorium reactors,” Dr Raj explained. He said that within three decades the country’s thorium reactors would start generating power for the national grid. “I am sure by 2037 we will have thorium reactors in place,” he said.  With its vast thorium resources along the Kerala and Tamil Nadu coast, the country would not need to worry  about its fuel needs in the future, according to him.

Former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, himself a scientist of international repute, had recently spoken about the neccessity to develop thorium based reactors to make the country energy independent.  With the commissioning of the thorium based reactor, the country is expected to make a quantum leap towards economy and safety in power generation.

Since thorium produces 10 to 10,000 times less long-lived radioactive waste than uranium or plutonium reactors, chances of any radiation hazards are  lesser in Thorium reactors, experts point out. According to Dr Raj work on the 500 MW Fast Breeder Reactor at Kalpakkam was progressing as per schedule. ” We are sure that the FBR will be commissioned by September 2010. It will start supplying power to the national grid by March 2011. We have almost finished the civil construction work. The reactor vault has been completed without any problems.

The main vessel of the reactor , safety vessel, core structure, control rod drives, fuel-handling mechanism are all in various stages of completion. From the end of September, we will start loading all components into the building,” he added. He said that his team of scientists and engineers were working on a goal to produce power at the rate of Rs 2 per unit. “As of today the power from FBR costs Rs 3. 20 per unit. Our dream is to bring it down by a rupee,” he disclosed thorium unit in India soon  Thorium reactor in India soon!
2 Jul 2007, 1500 hrs IST ,IANSSMS NEWS to 8888 for latest updates

BANGALORE: A team of scientists at a premier Indian nuclear facility has made a theoretical design of an innovative reactor that can run on thorium – available in abundance in the country – and will eventually do away with the need for uranium. But the success of the project largely depends on the US playing ball. The novel Fast Thorium Breeder Reactor (FTBR) being developed by V. Jagannathan and his team at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai has received global attention after a paper was submitted to the International Conference on Emerging Nuclear Energy Systems (ICENES) held June 9-14 in Istanbul. Power reactors of today mostly use a fissile fuel called uranium-235 (U-235), whose “fission” releases energy and some “spare” neutrons that maintain the chain reaction. But only seven out of 1,000 atoms of naturally occurring uranium are of this type. The rest are “fertile”, meaning they cannot fission but can be converted into fissionable plutonium by neutrons released by U-235. Thorium, which occurs naturally, is another “fertile” element that can be turned by neutrons into U-233, another uranium isotope. U-233 is the only other known fissionable material. It is also called the “third fuel”. Thorium is three times more abundant in the earth’s crust than uranium but was never inducted into reactors because – unlike uranium – it has no fissionable atoms to start the chain reaction. But once the world’s uranium runs out, thorium – and the depleted uranium discharged by today’s power reactors – could form the “fertile base” for nuclear power generation, the BARC scientists claim in their paper. They believe their FTBR is one such “candidate” reactor that can produce energy from these two fertile materials with some help from fissile plutonium as a “seed” to start the fire. By using a judicious mix of “seed” plutonium and fertile zones inside the core, the scientists show theoretically that their design can breed not one but two nuclear fuels – U-233 from thorium and plutonium from depleted uranium – within the same reactor. This totally novel concept of fertile-to-fissile conversion has prompted its designers to christen their baby the Fast ‘Twin’ Breeder Reactor. Their calculations show the sodium-cooled FTBR, while consuming 10.96 tonnes of plutonium to generate 1,000 MW of power, breeds 11.44 tonnes of plutonium and 0.88 tonnes of U-233 in a cycle length of two years. According to the scientists, their FTBR design exploits the fact that U-233 is a better fissile material than plutonium. Secondly, they were able to maximise the breeding by putting the fertile materials inside the core rather than as a “blanket” surrounding the core as done traditionally. “At present, there are no internal fertile blankets or fissile breeding zones in power reactors operating in the world,” the paper claims. The concept has won praise from nuclear experts elsewhere. “Core heterogeneity is the best way to help high conversion,” says Alexis Nuttin, a French nuclear scientist at the LPSC Reactor Physics Group in Grenoble. Thorium-based fuels and fuel cycles have been used in the past and are being developed in a few countries but are yet to be commercialised.

France is also studying a concept of “molten salt reactor” where the fuel is in liquid form, while the US is considering a gas-cooled reactor using thorium. McLean, Virginia-based Thorium Power Ltd of the US, has been working with nuclear engineers and scientists of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow for over a decade to develop designs that can be commercialised. But BARC’s FTBR is claimed to be the first design that truly exploits the concept of “breeding” in a reactor that uses thorium. The handful of fast breeder reactors (FBRs) in the world today – including the one India is building in Kalpakkam near Chennai – use plutonium as fuel. These breeders have to wait until enough plutonium is accumulated through reprocessing of spent fuel discharged by thermal power reactors that run on uranium. Herein lies the rub. India does not have sufficient uranium to build enough thermal reactors to produce the plutonium needed for more FBRs of the Kalpakkam type. The India-US civilian nuclear deal was expected to enable India import uranium and reprocess spent fuel to recover plutonium for its FBRs. But this deal has hit a roadblock. Jagannathan‘s design is one way of utilising thorium and circumventing the delays in building plutonium-based FBRs,” says former BARC director P.K . Iyengar. Meanwhile, India’s 300,000 tonnes of thorium reserves – the third largest in the world – in the beach sands of Kerala and Orissa states are waiting to be tapped. The BARC scientists say that thorium should be inducted into power reactors when the uranium is still available, rather than after it is exhausted. But the FTBR still needs an initial inventory of plutonium to kick-start the thorium cycle and eventually to generate electricity. A blanket ban on India re-processing imported uranium – a condition for nuclear cooperation with the US – could make India’s thorium programme a non-starter. Iyengar has one suggestion that he says must be acceptable to the US if it is serious about helping India to solve its energy problem. “The US and Russia have piles of plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons,” Iyengar told IANS, adding: “They should allow us to borrow this plutonium needed to start our breeders. We can return the material after we breed enough.” Chennai, July 29: Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Sunday said he believes the country can be a world leader in nuclear fuels if it develops technology for thorium-based reactors.  “We have vast resources of thorium and the moment we develop the technology for thorium-based reactors, we will be the world leader,” Dr Kalam told this newspaper at his cabin at Ramanujan Computing Centre at Anna University here. Dr Kalam said thorium may be used as a fuel in nuclear reactors instead of uranium. This produces “less transuranic waste,” he said and added that the country has ready access to thorium. On the India-US civilian nuclear deal, Dr Kalam said, “We require a large quantity of uranium as of today because we have 17 nuclear reactors which are running to capacity. Hence we cannot afford to be away from mainstream nuclear activities.” On whether the India-US nuclear deal would prevent India from conducting nuclear tests in the future, Dr Kalam said, “That we can sort out when we cross the bridge.” Dr Kalam was the scientific adviser to the Union government when he led and coordinated the team of Indian nuclear scientists and engineers conducting the Pokhran nuclear test of May 1998. thorium reactors: Kalam See also discussions at: Australia ‘s e-journal of social and political debate

India‘s fast breeder nuclear reactors and Australian uranium: an absence of safeguards?

By Marko Beljac
Posted Friday, 17 August 2007 Much has been said in recent times about the US-India nuclear transfer agreement and the export of Australian uranium to India, even by yours truly. It is to be expected that we shall hear plenty more about this in future now that the government has formally agreed to the sale of uranium. My purpose here, however, is to focus very narrowly on one aspect of the issue that may have interesting implications and that is on India’s three-stage nuclear fuel cycle strategy and the role of the fast breeder reactor within it. The fast breeder reactor is a special reactor type. Most reactors are called thermal reactors because they utilise slow neutrons to trigger nuclear fission. As the name would suggest fast breeders utilise fast neutrons. They also act as efficient breeders of fissionable material, especially plutonium. The idea behind the fast breeder is to produce more fissionable material than is consumed. For instance by bombarding a nucleus of uranium-238, that is natural uranium, one can breed plutonium-239 after two successive beta decays. Plutonium-239 is the isotope of plutonium generally used in nuclear weapons. Nuclear fission that is unleashed by fast or high energy neutrons produces more new neutrons than that by way of thermal neutrons. Pu-239 with fast neutrons produces 2.9 neutrons per fission, the highest for the various fissile isotopes. If one were to surround the core of a fast reactor with a blanket of ordinary uranium the neutrons produced from the core could turn this material into more plutonium-239 by way of the above reaction again. By placing a very tight fit between the blanket and the core of a fast reactor comparatively few neutrons would be lost and over time thereby the amount of plutonium produced would exceed the amount consumed. A similar process occurs in nuclear weapons where a tamper reflects neutrons back into the plutonium pit to increase the efficiency of fission or in boosted fission weapons where neutrons produced in the fusion of deuterium-tritium gas produces extra neutrons, although weapons do not of course breed plutonium. The plutonium 239 used in a fast breeder reactor usually comes in the form of a Mixed Oxide Fuel, that is a mixture of plutonium oxide and uranium oxide typically with a 20:80 ratio between the two respectively. The most important point to consider from our perspective however is that any plutonium 239 present in a fast neutron reactor must be very highly concentrated, that is highly pure plutonium 239, in order to prevent the loss of neutrons. Nuclear fuel cycles based on the fast breeder reactor concept have been the holy grail of the nuclear industry but have been dismal failures. But a few countries still are pursuing the dream such as Japan, France, China and India. It is revealing that in each case energy security is an important motivating factor, a fact of no small moment given the looming peak in oil production and the expansion of nuclear power. The latter case is especially interesting for the fast breeder reactor is an integral part of India’s three-stage nuclear fuel cycle strategy. The three stages consist first, of utilising heavy water moderated reactors; second, fast breeder reactors; and third, thorium-based breeder reactors. The idea with such thorium reactors is to use thorium to breed uranium-233, a fissionable isotope of uranium. The reason why India wants to achieve this penultimate stage in its fuel cycle strategy is of great import. It is recognised that India has small reserves of uranium but large reserves of thorium.Implicit in the very concept of India’s three-stage nuclear fuel cycle strategy is recognition that India does not have enough reserves of uranium to both maintain fissile material production for nuclear weapons, if not expand such production, and significantly increase the amount of electricity generated by nuclear power stations to help fuel economic growth. The emphasis on breeding fissile material by way of fast neutron reactors is also an acknowledgement that India’s uranium reserves imposes a strict upper bound on its civil and military nuclear programs. It is often stated by supporters of government policy on uranium exports, for instance by Rory Medcalf writing in The Sydney Morning Herald that even exporting coal to India would free up Indian uranium reserves. Medcalf’s point is only of relevance as an example of how a pathetic and superficial understanding of the issues can enter public discourse even in so august a publication as the Herald.As often stated elsewhere the US-India nuclear transfer accord will set the framework for Australian uranium exports to India. Under the 123 agreement that implements the accord India’s fast breeder reactor program will not be safeguarded. During negotiations this was a sticking point with Washington keen to subject India’s current fast breeders to safeguards. India held firm on its position and the United States has clearly relented. It is worth looking at some likely implications of this.India currently has two fast breeder reactors, the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) and the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR). The FBTR actually uses fuel in the form of a plutonium-uranium carbide mixture with a ratio of 70 per cent plutonium and 30 per cent uranium. It initially used a core composed of weapons grade plutonium. The Prototype reactor is the follow on reactor to the FBTR and shall use a mixed fuel of plutonium-uranium oxide. It is envisaged that the FBTR will be up and running by 2010. To produce the plutonium for fast breeder reactors India will re-process spent reactor fuel from the operation of thermal reactors. The United States has agreed, again another concession to India, to give Delhi advanced consent for the re-processing of spent reactor fuel to separate plutonium.Alexander Downer has stated that Australia will sign a safeguards agreement with India to allow for the export of uranium and that it will incorporate all the safeguards features typical of hitherto agreements. It has been standard policy, although not from the beginning of uranium exports, to provide advanced consent for chemical re-processing of spent reactor fuel arising from the use of Australian designated nuclear material. It is clear that under India’s three-stage nuclear fuel cycle strategy that Delhi seeks to use separated plutonium in its fast breeder reactor program. Recall from the above discussion that plutonium used in fast breeder reactors is highly concentrated plutonium-239 that is weapons grade plutonium. It is possible then that Australian uranium could very well be used in short burn-up campaigns in designated civil reactors to produce spent reactor fuel high in the concentration of plutonium 239. Indeed India in the first stage of its nuclear fuel cycle relies heavily upon heavy water moderated reactors that are efficient producers of plutonium-239. Australian safeguards policy requires the consent of Australia before any country can enrich uranium to concentrations of uranium-235 greater than 20 per cent (20-90 per cent is weapons useable and greater than 90 per cent is weapons grade) but does not actually make any such stipulation with regard to plutonium. This is because Australian safeguards policy assumes, so it would seem, nuclear fuel cycles associated with light water reactors predominantly but with India’s three-stage nuclear fuel cycle this is not the case. But actually India need not produce plutonium high in plutonium-239 in civil reactors in its fast breeder reactors. This is because it is possible to use reactor grade plutonium, high in the isotope of plutonium-240, to produce plutonium-239. This is known as using a reactor as a “laundry” to breed plutonium-239. The Indian case may well pose some interesting dilemmas for the Australian Safeguards Office. For instance the office has acknowledged in a research paper that the blanket of fast breeder reactors will be a source of plutonium-239, as is clear, and that in fact the blankets of fast breeders will contain plutonium at the super-grade level, that is, 97 per cent plutonium-239. The key point for us is that, as noted, the US in the 123 accord has agreed that these two fast breeder reactors will not be safeguarded. Because of this a reasonable thesis to draw is that these fast breeders will play a role in India’s nuclear weapons program. Given the enormous leverage of the United States it hardly seems likely that Australia will wrest this concession from India. Delhi will not let such a concession to its negotiating stance with Washington slip behind the back door via a safeguards agreement with Australia.That being the case it thereby follows that the Australian government, given advanced consent to spent fuel re-processing and the absence of safeguards on India’s fast breeder reactor program, will not be in a position to claim that it can safeguard Australian nuclear material from ending up in India’s nuclear weapons program.In its negotiations with India the government must state quite categorically that no Australian designated nuclear material may end up at these two fast breeder reactors. In the absence of such provision safeguards is a moot point. It is disturbing, then, that it seems that under some aspects of the 123 accord the export of uranium to India almost follows as a consequence. For instance in one article the US agrees to provide India assurance of supply in the case of exogenous supply side shocks by convening friendly countries to re-supply India.Australia would fit into this provision.Marko Beljac is a Monash University PhD student . He maintains the blog Science and Global Security. He is co-author of An Illusion of Protection: The Unavoidable Limitations of Safeguards on Nuclear Materials and the Export of Australian Uranium to China . Marko tutored under Professor Joe Camilleri at Latrobe University.  See also:South Asian nuclear arsenals:  Federation of American Scientists:  With regard to unit-wise performance, the total income and profit margin of Chavara increased by 30% and 34% respectively. The difficulties in acquiring mining land from villages near Chavara Plant had earlier been a major constraint on its expansion programme. During this year IREL succeeded in acquiring 9 acres of land through government approved negotiation process. The Manavalakurichi Unit had restarted collection and processing of beach sands in cooperation with local fishermen. It is the third unit of IREL to receive ISO-9002 certification. During the year, OSCOM achieved an ilmenite production of 1,75,000 tons (80% of name plate capacity) and reduced the loss by 51% inspite of the severe damage caused by the super-cyclone in October 1999. A month long campaign to test the in-house modified Benelite process, had been successfully completed by OSCOM producing about 1100 tons of 93% grade synthetic rutile at a much reduced variable cost of production. The modified process is now ready to be taken up for commercial production. The Rare Earths Division (RED) also succeeded in reducing its losses by 25% through various austerity measures and by adopting modified product mix commensurate with the sluggish market scenario.    Mirror: With the privatisation of mines in 2002, there is an urgency to create a Mines and Minerals Regulatory Authority of India, particularly for strategic minerals.  Strategic minerals are monazite, ilmenite and rutile sands which contain thorium and titanium. Titanium is a space age mineral; thorium is the mainstay of the nation’s nuclear program with the potential to make the nation energy independent.  Minerals policy is coming up for discussion in the Parliament in the current session (from August 2007). This issue of national security and sovereignty and the imperative of attaining a developed nation status will necessitate the conservation of the mineral wealth of the nation and NOT allow it to be looted for temporary gains. For example, instead of merely producing titanium oxide in the Tata plants at Sattankulam (Tamilnadu) or Chattarpur (Orissa) using the mineral placer deposit sands, there should be plants to produce thorium and titanium metals and reserve them for the nation’s strategic development imperatives.  Some notes follow which will have an impact on development of SEZs ensuring sustainable development for an essentially agrarian nation living in over 6 lakh villages. This is step 1 in swadeshi swarajyam economics to avoid colonial loot by proxy through a criminalised polity.   K.M.V. Jayaram. An Overview of World Thorium Resources, Incentives for Further Exploration and Forecast for Thorium Requirements in the Near FutureMirror: …with the increased interest shown by several countries in the development of Fast Breeder Reactors using thorium, it is expected that the demand will increase considerablyby the turn of the century.The total known world reserves of Th in RAR category are estimated at about 1.16 million tonnes. About 31% of this (0.36 mt) is known to be available in the beach and inland placers of India… Thorium in association with uranium and Rare Earth Elements(REE) occurs in diverse rock types; as veins of thorite,thonanite, uranothonte and as monazite in granites, syenites,pegmatites and other acidic intrusions. It also occurs as an associatedelement with REE bearing bastnaesite in carbonatites.Monazite also occurs in quartz-pebble conglomerates, sandstonesand in fluviatile and beach placers.Prior to the second world war thorium was used widelyin the manufacture of gas mantles, welding rods, refractoriesand in magnesium based alloys. Its use as fuel in nuclear energy,in spite of its limited demand as of now and low forecast, isgaining importance because of its transmutation to 233 u. Severalcountries like India, Russia, France and U.K. have shown considerableinterest in the development of fast breeder reactors (FBR)and it is expected that by the turn of this century some of thecountries would have started commissioning large capacity units… Although monazite occurs associated with ilmenite andother hm in the beach sands, skirting the entire Peninsular India,its economic concentration is confined to only some areas wheresuitable plhysiographic conditions exist. The west coast placersare essentially beach or barrier deposits with development ofdunes where aeolin action is prominent in dry months. On theother hand, the east coast deposits consist of extensive dunesfringing the coast.3.1.1. West coastOf the several west coast deposits assessed so far thedeposits at Chavara and Manvalkurchi in Kerala and Tamil Nadurespectively, are rich in hm content [5]. The other deposits occurringnorth of Chavara, stretching over a distance of 50 km. uptoRatnagiri are leaner with a hm content of -^^. 20% of which monaziteforms 0.06% [6]… In Manavalakurchi, Tamil Nadu, the deposit is formed bythe “southerly tilt of the tip of the peninsula [9] aided by seasonalvariation of sea currents, both in direction and magnitude [10].It contains 64% hm with 45-50% ilmenite (with 54% TiOJ, 2-3%rutile, 3-4% monazite (9-10% ThOj, 4-6% zircon and 56% garnet[12]. The higher percentage of monazite and garnet m this areais attributable to the high density of intrusion of the pegmatitesand leptynites in the hinterland and its location on the sea sideof the embayment of eroded latente [13]. van Arkel, A.E.; de Boer, J.H. (1925). “Preparation of pure titanium, zirconium, hafnium, and thorium metal”. Zeitschrift für Anorganische und Allgemeine Chemie 148: 345-350. 


(May 2007)

  • Thorium is much more abundant in nature than uranium.
  • Thorium can also be used as a nuclear fuel through breeding to uranium-233 (U-233).
  • When this thorium fuel cycle is used, much less plutonium and other transuranic elements are produced, compared with uranium fuel cycles.
  • Several reactor concepts based on thorium fuel cycles are under consideration.

Thorium is a naturally-occurring, slightly radioactive metal discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius, who named it after Thor, the Norse god of thunder. It is found in small amounts in most rocks and soils, where it is about three times more abundant than uranium. Soil commonly contains an average of around 6 parts per million (ppm) of thorium.Thorium occurs in several minerals, the most common being the rare earth-thorium-phosphate mineral, monazite, which contains up to about 12% thorium oxide, but average 6-7%. There are substantial deposits in several countries (see table). Thorium-232 decays very slowly (its half-life is about three times the age of the earth) but other thorium isotopes occur in its and in uranium’s decay chains. Most of these are short-lived and hence much more radioactive than Th-232, though on a mass basis they are negligible.

 Mines and minerals regulatory authority of India With the privatisation of mines in 2002, there is an urgency to create a Mines and Minerals Regulatory Authority of India, particularly for strategic minerals. Strategic minerals are monazite, ilmenite and rutile sands which contain thorium and titanium. Titanium is a space age mineral; thorium is the mainstay of the nation’s nuclear program with the potential to make the nation energy independent. Minerals policy is coming up for discussion in the Parliament in the current session (from August 2007). This issue of national security and sovereignty and the imperative of attaining a developed nation status will necessitate the conservation of the mineral wealth of the nation and NOT allow it to be looted for temporary gains. For example, instead of merely producing titanium oxide in the Tata plants at Sattankulam (Tamilnadu) or Chattarpur (Orissa) using the mineral placer deposit sands, there should be plants to produce thorium and titanium metals and reserve them for the nation’s strategic development imperatives. Some notes follow which will have an impact on development of SEZs ensuring sustainable development for an essentially agrarian nation living in over 6 lakh villages. Kalyanaraman14 August 2007 Thorium has been extracted chiefly from monazite through a multi-stage process. In the first stage, the monazite sand is dissolved in an inorganic acid such as sulfuric acid (H2SO4). In the second, the Thorium is extracted into an organic phase containing an amine. Next it is separated or “stripped” using an anion such as nitrate, chloride, hydroxide, or carbonate, returning the thorium to an aqueous phase. Finally, the thorium is precipitated and collected. Source: Crouse, David; Brown, Keith (December 1959). “The Amex Process for Extracting Thorium Ores with Alkyl Amines“.Industrial & Engineering Chemistry 51 (12): 1461. Retrieved on 200703-09 K.M.V. Jayaram. An Overview of World Thorium Resources, Incentives for Further Exploration and Forecast for Thorium Requirements in the Near FutureMirror: Under the prevailing estimate, Australia and India have particularly large reserves of thorium. Thorium reserves: 







United States




South Africa






Other Countries


World Total


 Source: US Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries (1997-2006); ^ U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries – Thorium.  Information and Issue Briefs – Thorium. World Nuclear Association. Retrieved on 200611-01. Vanishing thorium and nuke deal; are they interlinked? Of course, according to scientists, the accumulation of placer deposits is substantially contributed by Rama Setu acting as a sieve and the unique pattern of ocean currents in Hindumahaasaagar. Who will take care of the nation’s wealth so essential to the nation’s nuke programme?  k Vaikundarajan directed to surrender in court
Friday August 10 2007 09:18 IST
MADURAI: Vaikundarajan, owner of V V Minerals and a shareholder of Jaya TV, was on Thursday, directed by the Madurai Bench of the High Court to surrender at Eraniel court. The bench also allowed the police to question him for two days.Vaikundarajan had filed 20 petitions seeking anticipatory bail. The petitions came up for hearing before Justice G Rajasuria.The judge observed that the police had doubts as to where the sand was sent as it contained nuclear deposits.

Vaikundarajan has claimed that he was not aware of the fact that the sand he mined contained nuclear particles. The judge said that the case was significant because of the nuclear content in the sand.  

Thorium and Rama Setu: both must be protected as nation’s treasureNeeded:An immediate notification banning the private leases of monazite and ilmenite coastal sands and declaring these as national treasure to be protected and used only indigenously to support the nation’s nuclear program.

In his speech to the Parliament in March 2007, the President of India said that the current electricity generation capacity in India is 120000 MW and is expected to increase to 400000 MW by the year 2030. Baba Atomic Research Center (BARC) estimates that about 30 % of world’s thorium deposits, or about 225000 tons of thorium, are found on the beaches of Kerala. This will support about 387 years of electricity generation at 2030 capacity levels!

Importance of thorium for Bharatam

From BARC website: Thorium deposits – ~ 3,60,000 tonnes

The currently known Indian thorium reserves amount to 358,000 GWe-yr of electrical energy and can easily meet the energy requirements during the next century and beyond.

India’s vast thorium deposits permit design and operation of U-233 fuelled breeder reactors.

These U-233/Th-232 based breeder reactors are under development and would serve as the mainstay of the final thorium utilization stage of the Indian nuclear programme.

This is underscored in a US report: where, Tellis, the point-man for Indo-US nuke deal notes that India reserves of 78,000 metric tons of uranium. The interests of US are best served by selling uranium and nuke reactors instead of allowing India to gain self-sufficiency using indigenous thorium reserves.
The extraordinary monograph by Prof. Monu Nalapat, Prof. of Geopolitics in Manipal University, notes with forthrightness and clarity and unravels the shocking sell-out of the national interests, national integrity and national security of Bharatam, ignoring the sage advise of the nation’s foremost nuclear scientists. [quote] The Indian position has been deliberately made murky, given the lack of an adequate official response to recent statements made by the US that have described the proposed “strategic” partnership for what it is—a non-proliferation mechanism intended to bring India into the now tattered NPT fold as a non-nuclear weapons state. Should Congress finally get their way and force this agreement on the nation, not only should the pact be torn up by the successor government, but both should be prosecuted for high treason. [unquote] 

Thorium blanket as fuel will be the nuclear fuel of the future for Bharatam, which has the largest reserves of thorium in the world. A team of scientists led by Dr. VJ Loveson of the CISR New Delhi, studying placer deposits in the area, says an estimated 40 million tonnes of Titanium alone has been deposited in the entire stretch of 500 km. coastline.

There are four places on earth which are the target for exploitation of the richest mineral resources on earth:

Manavalakurichi, Tamil Nadu
Chavara, Kerala
Chatrapur, Orissa
Pulmoddai, Sri Lanka
These four locations have coastal sands containing ilmenite and monazite among other minerals. Ilmenite and Monazite sands yield Titanium and Thorium.Thorium is vital for Bharatam’s Atomic Energy Program according to the BARC website. The estimated reserves of 3,60,000 tonnes in Bharatam (being exploited by India Rare Earths Limited) will meet the needs of electricity generation for over 350 years even assuming an annual rate of generation of 400,000 MW (that is, four times the present annual level of generation of electricity).

The intents of those who do not want Bharatam to progress with the indigenous technological competence to create a nuclear reactor out of a thorium blanket (Kamini reactor operating for 10 years now and another reactor coming up in the next 3 years to produce 500 MW of electricity at Kalpakkam) make even developed nuclear powers jealous of the reserves the nation possesses.

Shockingly, in 2002, the Mines Act was amended and exploitation of mines was privatized. Private operators have now set up coastal sand godowns and looting the nation’s richest mineral treasure. From Sri Lanka, Pulmoddai location, the entire production is meant for export to Japan, Australia, Germany etc.

Now, the need for a 10 m. deep channel which will allow ships with less than 30,000 Dead Weight Tonnes can be used to transport these mineral sands both ways, one way to Germany and the other way to Japan and USA.

Bharatam is the only country which has proved the use of thorium as a nuclear fuel. Naturally, the jealousy leads some hostile nations to ensure that the thorium reserves are knocked out and the nation made to buy uranium from the nuclear fueldsuppliers cartel. Now, the Indo-US nuclear deal may indeed be premised on the destruction of the thorium reserves of the nation by three means: 1) export of sands containing the nuclear fuel; 2) preventing accumulation of placer deposits as monazite sands by interfering with Rama Setu which acts as a sieve resulting in these placer accumulations; 3) expose the beach sands to be submerged in the deep waters of the Indian ocean in case the next tsunami devastates this mineral coastline through the proposed mid-ocean channel (as surmised by Tsunami experts that the next tsunami energy will be funneled through the channel as it happended in 1964 in Alberni canal and devastate the coastline of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in Bharatam and of northern and northeastern Sri Lanka.

Now some evidences will be presented on the source of the rare earths found on these four locations in such large quantities making Bharatam’s possession the richest reserve of thorium in the world.

Kalyanaraman, 21 June 2007

SLN ship under siege off Pulmoddai coast

[TamilNet, August 01, 2006 15:13 GMT]

The Jetliner ship, which escaped Trincomalee attack Tuesday afternoon with 854 Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers on board, bound for north, has come under attack again in the Pulmoddai sea from 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, military sources in Colombo said. Pulmoddai is located 49 km northwest of Trincomalee and 41 km southwest of Mullaithivu.
Kfir jets took off from Colombo towards Pulmoddai in support of the ship under siege.
Villagers of Kokilai, Pulmoddai and other areas close to the Pulmoddai Sea are fleeing from their houses.
Pulmoddai battle on but Sri Lankan ship `safe’
B. Muralidhar Reddy
COLOMBO: The Sri Lanka Navy has denied reports that the Jetliner ship, which escaped a Tiger attack in Trincomalee on Tuesday afternoon, came under attack again in the Pulmoddai sea.
The ship had 854 Sri Lanka Army soldiers on board. However, a spokesperson of the SLA told The Hindu that a confrontation was on between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Navy in the Pulmoddai sea.
“[The] Jetliner is safe and the passengers on board disembarked in the afternoon. The claim by the LTTE about a second attack on the Jetliner is false and is a sign of desperation after its cadres suffered heavily in the Trincomalee as well as Pulmoddai confrontation,” the spokesperson said.
Earlier, TamilNet claimed that the Jetliner, bound for the north, came under a second attack from the Tigers at 6 p.m. Pulmoddai is located 49 km northwest of Trincomalee and 41 km southwest of Mullaithivu. “Villagers of Kokilai, Pulmoddai and other areas close to the Pulmoddai sea are fleeing their houses,” it said.
Rajapakse calls up Manmohan
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse telephoned Prime Minist er Manmohan Singh on Tuesday and exchanged views on the latest developments.
He also thanked Dr. Singh for help in the evacuation of stranded Sri Lankans from Lebanon.

Pulmoddai mineral shipments to resume
Shipments of mineral sands from the Pulmoddai beach deposit on the northeast coast, disrupted after Tamil Tiger rebels sank a bulk carrier, look set to resume now that the guerrillas and government forces are observing a truce and preparing for peace talks.
Mineral sands at the Pulmoddai mine run by the Lanka Mineral Sands Ltd are known to be rich in ilmenite, monazite, rutile and zircon.
Bulk shipments from Pulmoddai were suspended in September 1997 after Sea Tiger rebels blew up and sank a bulk carrier. Since then, small quantities of rutile and crude zircon brought by road have been exported in 40-kg bags through Colombo port mostly to China, India and the United Kingdom.
“Now, there is a lot of demand for our mineral sands,” said Muhammad Nassar, chairman of Lanka Mineral Sands. “We hope to resume production shortly. The factory has been out of production for five years so a fair amount of maintenance is needed.” For bulk shipments to resume, the wreck of the bulk carrier lying in 75 feet of water needs to be removed, the pier repaired and a conveyor installed.
The Tigers had taken care not to damage the plant, which is in the region they claim as their homeland, but cut off the water supply required to process the mineral sands and disrupted bulk shipments.
Big stocks of minerals have accumulated over the years, including 180,000 tonnes of ilmenite and 200,000 tonnes of crude zircon. The company processed about 300,000 tonnes of mineral sands a year.
The Pulmoddai beach mine is known to have high concentrations of minerals and is a renewable deposit with sand being washed up by the sea. Shipments are not possible during the northeast monsoon from October to February because there is no sheltered anchorage at the site. (Sunday Times, Colombo,19 May, 2002)

Mineral processing was set to resume at Lanka Mineral Sands Ltd.’s Pulmoddai Beach Mine in northern Sri Lanka. The company planned to restart large-scale processing of 200,000 metric tons (t) of crude zircon, 180,000 t of ilmenite, and deposits of rutile and monazite that are present in the sand. Small-scale operations continued, with small quantities of crude zircon and rutile being exported through the port of Colombo to China, India, and the United Kingdom. The company processed 300,000 metric tons per year of mined sands (Industrial Minerals, 2002). The Mineral Industry of Sri Lanka in 2002
Historically, the Ceylon Mineral Sands Corporation was established in 1957 under the State Industrial Corporations Act of 1957. The Corporation located its plant for processing Ilmenite at Pulmoddai and the first export of Ilmenite to Japan took place in 1962.
A new plant was commissioned in 1967 at China Bay, to process the more valuable minerals – Rutile, Zircon and monazite using the tailings of the Pulmoddai Ilmenite plant. In 1976, the Corporation established an integrated Ilmenite, Zircon and Rutile processing plant at Pulmoddai.
In 1992, the Corporation was converted into a Government Owned Company under Act No. 23 of 1987 and re-named Lanka Mineral Sands Ltd., the company also established a facility for bulk loading into ships Pulmoddai. Cod Bay, in the Trincomalee Harbour is the station for its floating craft of tugs and barges. The sales and marketing office is in Colombo…
In 1971 the company with the assistance of the Geological Survey Department carried out a survey of the present beach which revealed a heavy mineral content of 3.7 million tons with a cut off grade of 30%.
Preussag AG of West Germany carried out a vibro coring programme in 1979 in the near shore area off Pulmoddai directly adjacent to the actual beach deposit covering an area of 12 km x 1.7 km. the data collected revealed the deposit extends for a distance of approximately 0.8km parallel to the beach line; in thickness varying from several centimeters to 100 cm in certain places.
In 1987 Simec Ltd. a joint venture company of State Mining & Mineral Development Company of Sri Lanka and Intersit BV of Netherland surveyed an area of 45 miles between Mullativu and Nilaveli including the Pulmoddai beach.
Table 4 – Mineral Sands Deposits in Pulmoddai
Name of Deposit
Surface Area
Volume of Raw Sand

South of Pulmoddai
1500 acres
30.9 million cubic meters
US $ 5.65 – 7.55
Per cub meter

South of Pulmoddai
1500 acres
8.9 million cubic meters
US $ 3.6 – 5.20
Per cub meter

North of Pulmoddai
1500 acres
16.4 million cubic meters
US $ 4.33 – 5.49
Per cub. meter

North of Pulmoddai
900 acres
7.9 million cubic meters
US $ 8.65 – 10.54
Per cub. meter

LMSL is 100% export-oriented with its products reaching counties such as Japan, China, Australia etc. (Page 38)
The company has to-date only mined the Pulmoddai area and other untouched deposits in Kokilai, Nayaru etc., are in excess of 400% of the Pulmoddai deposit, ensuring a supply of raw material for several decades to come.
Prior to the stoppage of production in 2004, the production figures of LMSL are in Annexure 6. (Page 40)
Fuel can be supplied by road or transport via Trincomalee by sea. (Page 41).

• Market Access
LMSL is a 100% export oriented venture. Market access is therefore a prime consideration and any scheme of divestiture has to recognize this fact. Such a scheme would therefore have to ensure that marketability of mineral products is assured.

• Security

Since this enterprise is located close to the conflict zone and attempts have been made to disrupt production e.g., by damaging the water supply installation, the strategy should ensure attempts to disrupt production for political reasons is prevented. (Page 42).


It is used to manufacture Titanium Dixoide white Pigment which has its own peculiar characteristics such as pure whiteness and brightness than any other pigments can achieve, non-toxic in contrast to lead pigments, non corrosive, stand high temperature, does not change its colour when continuously exposed to sunlight and high hiding power. Therefore the ultimate use of this mineral is in paper, paint, plastic, rubber, textile industries and to make printing ink.
Main properties of Zircon sand are resistant to corrosion and withstand high temperatures. Therefore, it is extensively used in furnaces as retractive liners and in foundry casings. Another major use is as an opacifier in glazing material in ceramic industry which is widely expanding today. Zirconium compounds extracted from Zircon are commonly used in television sets, leather, water proofing of fabrics, lacquers, drugs as catalysts in chemical processes and also in high temperature work.

Monazite even though is a radio-active mineral due to the presence of thorium its main use is as a good source of rare-earth compounds. Monazite is therefore important for the electronic and computer industry. It is also used in glass manufacture and polishing lighter flints, high strength permanent magnets and in television sets as red phosphors.
This mineral is the raw material for the manufacture of world’s “present and future” metal Titanium. Titanium metal is very light (as light as aluminum) very strong (as strong as steel), highly resistant to corrosion, withstand very high temperatures. Rutile is exclusively used in the mineral sand form itself as a flux in welding rod industry.

(Page 48)
Annex 6 :
Year 1986 Production in Mt
Ilmenite 129907
Rutile 8443
Zircon 910
Hi.Ti.Ilmenite 3996
Monazite 17
Crude Zircon –
Total 143273 (1986) 47892 (1998)
Monazite in 2004: 29 Mt
(page 51)

Industrial Minerals
Richard H. Olson, Edwin H. Bentzen, III, and Gordon C. Presley, Editors
2.10.25. TitaniumFootnote 01
Elemental titanium has become famous as a space age metal, because of its high strength/weight ratio and resistance to corrosion. However, the major use is in the form of titanium dioxide pigment, which because of its whiteness, high refractive index, and resulting light-scattering ability, is unequaled for whitening paints, paper, rubber, plastics, and other materials. A relatively minor use is in welding rod coatings, in the form of the mineral rutile. The only commercially important titanium ore minerals at the present time are ilmenite and its alteration products, and rutile.
Titanium was discovered by Gregor in 1790, as a white oxide which he discovered from menaccanite, a variety of ilmenite occurring as a black sand near Falmouth, Cornwall. Barksdale (1966) stated that the fundamental chemical reactions on which the present-day titanium industry is based were known before 1800, although it was not until 1918 that these pigments were available commercially on the American market. ..
The beginning of the modern titanium metal industry was in 1948, when Du Pont produced the first metal. U.S. Bureau of Mines reports, which gave details of the Kroll process, together with the attractive properties of the metal for military aircraft, led to a concerted effort by industry and government to develop a large-scale titanium metal industry, which reached a peak capacity of over 36,000 stpy from six producers by 1958 (Pings, 1972a)…
Although titanium is the ninth most abundant element of the lithosphere, comprising an estimated 0.62% of the earth’s crust, there are only a few minerals in which it occurs in major amounts: rutile, anatase, and brookite (which are polymorphs of TiO2), ilmenite and its alteration products, including leucoxene, perovskite (CaTiO3), and sphene (CaTiSiO5). Anatase may be emerging as a significant ore mineral of the future, but ilmenite, altered ilmenite, leucoxene, and rutile have been the only large volume ore minerals through 1980.
Sand deposits in which rutile is the only economically important titanium mineral occur along the eastern shore of Australia. Ilmenite, altered ilmenite, and rutile form inland elevated strand-line deposits in Western Australia and in older sands of the Atlantic Coastal Plain of the United States. Ilmenite and altered ilmenite are the principal titanium ore minerals in other Western Australian districts; in Kerala, India; in deposits north of the Black Sea in the USSR; and in Florida and Georgia. Relatively unaltered ilmenite is found in large beach and dune occurrences along the northeastern coast of South Africa, in the Nile Delta of Egypt, and in still other Western Australian deposits, those closest to the present coast. Sand deposits of titaniferous iron ores occur as dune and beach deposits in many volcanic areas, of which those in New Zealand are the outstanding examples…
Sand Deposits: Titanium-bearing black sands are found mainly in ancient or modern ocean and sea beaches around and occasionally within continental land masses. They frequently form highly visible surficial layers between the high and low water marks which may extend intermittently along coasts for miles, but such concentrations, containing perhaps 80% heavy minerals, are not mined on a large scale because they are usually too shallow and narrow to represent major reserves. Minable bodies are multilayered occurrences of a similar nature left behind by retreating seas, or coastal dunes formed when heavy minerals from black sand beaches were being transported inland by wind action. Heavy minerals tend to be disseminated within such dunes rather than layered as in beach-type deposits.
The history of a black sand ore body may be simple or complex. The essential elements are: (1) a “hinterland” of crystalline rocks in which the heavy minerals were accessory constituents, (2) a period of deep weathering, (3) uplift with rapid erosion and quick dumping into the sea of the products of stream erosion, and (4) emergence of the coastline with longshore drift and high-energy waves acting during the process of shoreline straightening. There may be intermediate stages such as partial concentration of the heavy minerals in a coastal plain sediment and subsequent elevation, erosion, and reconcentration. The sand brought to the sea by rivers is picked up and carried away from their mouths by longshore currents, forming offshore bars and filling in bays between headlands, particularly during storms. Where bars are formed, the sand-carrying waves drag bottom and lose their energy so that the heavy minerals fall on the seaward side while the light minerals are cast over the bar and into the quieter water beyond. Layer upon layer of varying concentrations of heavy minerals accumulates on the growing bar in this way. Where bays are being filled with sand, both heavy and light minerals are churned from the bottom by landward-rushing waves and are hurled up the beach slope. The smoother, slower retreat of each wave mobilizes the uppermost layer of sand deposited there, and draws away the light minerals, to be picked up again and again by waves as currents move them along the coast, while leaving the heavy minerals behind. Alternating periods of stormy and calm weather leave alternating layers of high and low concentrations of heavy minerals in the beach sand as it advances toward the sea..…
India: At one time India was a leading producer of ilmenite from the state of Kerala (formerly Travancore-Cochin). The beach sands were mined in the Manavalakurichi (M.K.) area and later the Quilon deposit of ilmenite near Chavra was put into production. These deposits supplied the bulk of the titanium ore used by the U.S. prior to World War II.
The two deposits have more differences than similarities. The ilmenite in the M.K. deposit analyzed only 54% TiO2 and the sand was rich in garnet and monazite. The ilmenite in the Quilon deposit analyzes about 60% TiO2. The sand carried almost no garnet and is high in monazite in only two places. ..
Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka contains extensive beach deposits of titanium-bearing sands at Pulmoddai, Tirukkovil, Kelani River, Kalu River, Modoragam River, Kudremalai Point, Negombo, and Induruwa.
The Pulmoddai area contains 5.6 million st of titaniferous material with 2.451 million st of contained TiO2. The deposit extends for a distance of 7 km (42 miles), has a maximum width of about 91 m (300 ft), and a thickness of about 2.4 m (8 ft) There is no overburden. The deposit contains about 80% ilmenite and rutile
The separation of rutile has been adversely affected by the presence of excessive amounts of residual ilmenite and quartz in the tailings. The separation of zircon has been hampered by inadequate water and insufficient wet tabling equipment to handle the extremely fine-grained Pulmoddai ore…
Sand Deposits
Exploration: There are only a few large areas of the world where the granite-clan rocks and high-grade metamorphic gneisses which are likely to contain ilmenite (not titaniferous-magnetite) and rutile are close enough to continental margins to have contributed their erosion products to the sediments of coastal plains. Well-sorted sands are much more likely hosts than unsorted sands. These are the areas on which exploration efforts should be focused. Since the alteration of ilmenite to remove iron is aided by humic acid developed by the decomposition of organic material near the water table in hot and humid climates, it follows that the highest TiO2 ilmenites are more likely to be found in the tropical and temperate regions of the world.
Titanium minerals are dark-colored and their concentration, as in black beach sands, tends to be fairly readily noticeable against the light brown or white quartz. Many sand ore bodies, therefore, have been discovered through surface observation of high-grade placer zones formed on beaches and along the courses of streams, and by following their traces into the larger, lower grade concentrations which constitute economic ore bodies.
There are areas in which potential heavy mineral concentrations in ancient beach sands may be masked by younger sand, gravel, or soil. Exploration under these circumstances then involves interpretation of geomorphic and subsurface geologic data to define areas which could have been beaches or dunes in the past, and then drilling to obtain samples. ..

Evaluation of Deposits: An economic titanium mineral deposit must have reserves large enough to support depreciation over a period of at least 10 to 20 or more years. The capital investment in 1980 was in the range of $75 to $80 million in the U.S. for a mine and mill plant with an output of 100 to 200 thousand stpy of ilmenite (or equivalent rutile) with given “normal” geologic parameters. Significant contributions can be made by zircon and other byproducts. Another general rule is that a new and separate ore body, if its production is to be all ilmenite which cannot be treated in an existing mill, should have a minimum reserve of about 1 million tons of recoverable TiO2 in the titanium minerals. Small, high-grade concentrations are uneconomic under the present conditions.
The definition of economic reserves depends, of course, upon many factors, among them:
Cost of mining and milling, as influenced by depth of overburden (if any); cost of surface and mineral rights; and availability of water, power, labor, and transportation facilities for bulk shipments.
Recoverability in mining and milling.
Cost of treatment and disposal of waste slimes.
Cost of waste water treatment and land reclamation.
Distance to markets and cost of transport.
Ability of markets to absorb the type of titanium minerals to be produced, and prevailing prices for titanium minerals and byproducts.
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 Nuke deal and thorium as Bharatam’s vanishing strategic mineral Let us look at the deal from Uncle Sam’s perspective: Aim: desiccate Bharatam energy independence programme using thorium. Steps taken: 1. privatize mining operations including mining of monazite, ilmenite placer sands which yield thorium (the private greed will take over and allow the loot of the strategic mineral). 2. declare the sea-lane close to the placer deposits (Manavalakurichi – Tamilnadu, Aluva, Chavara — Kerala, Pulmoddai — Srilanka area, 30 kms. from Trincomalee under LTTE control) as international waters (disregarding historic waters status under the UN Law of the Sea 1958; follow-up with operational assertions by sending US naval vessels into the Gulf of Mannarto assert the international waters claim. 3. effectively create an international waters boundary between India and Srilanka by the alignmen chosen – a mid-ocean channel passage disregarding Sir A Ramaswamy Mudaliar Committee report of 1958 which said that such an idea should be abandoned for specific reasons. 4. by creating a channel, allow the next tsunami and cyclones to devastate the coastline south and west of Rama Setu so that the thorium reserves will get lost into the mid-ocean making it difficult and expensive to retrieve the strategic mineral. This is geopolitics in action with the world’s supercop calling the shots. Deal? What deal? Read Dr. Prasad’s views on how the much-publicised thorium as the sheet anchor of Bharatam’s nuclear strategy has been given the short shrift. Is there someone out there caring about preserving nation’s wealth and not allow it to be looted or desiccated? Will the nation’s energy independence goal by fast-tracking thorium-based reactors which have been highlighted by the brilliant work of scientist Jagannathan, by Dr. Baldev Raj of DAE and by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam be facilitated by the nuke deal? Govt. of India has to answer the question. Of course, the policy makers and legislators have to raise the question, in the first place and enforce an answer. Who will bell the cat? I don’t think the Communit legislators will do it because they will find a Hegelian dialectic to support the deal. I suppose it has to be done by the likes of Dr. Prasad who have contributed so much to the nation’s nuke power status. kalyan Nuclear deal: India has no leverage *A N Prasad | *August 06, 2007 | 18:53 IST Ever since it was released on August 3, the much-awaited text of the India-United States nuclear deal has been profusely commented upon and covered in the media. It is obvious the text has tried to accommodate diverging interests and constraints of both the parties by clever use of language — to give an illusory impression that the concerns are duly reflected. For the sake of public comfort, both parties are saying loudly that they are free to hold on to their respective rights and legal positions. It means hardly anything as far as India is concerned. Up against the Hyde Act standing like a Rock of Gibraltar, India has no leverage to force any of the issues during the innumerable consultations suggested in the text. In fact, our case was compromised to a large extent when this American act was passed, our prime minister’s assurances to the contrary notwithstanding. We are now in effect reduced to a mere recipient State mandated by the Hyde Act to carry out a set of dos and don’ts and to strive to earn a good behaviour report card to become eligible to continue receiving what the Americans can offer. In the process, slowly but surely, they can gain control and remotely drive our nuclear programmes in the long run. This deal, through the Hyde Act, gives far too many opportunities to penetrate deep into and interfere even in our three-stage programme to slow down the realisation of our goal of harnessing our vast resources of thorium for long-term energy security. Two points in support of this, which have largely missed notice: *One*, the revelation by Nicholas Burns, US under secretary of state during his interview to the Council on Foreign Relations: ‘It had been an easy “strategic” choice for Washington when faced with the question — should we isolate India for the next 35 years or bring it in partially now (*under safeguards inspection*) and nearly totally in the future.’ *Two*, Article 16.2 of the text says the 123 Agreement shall remain in force for a period of 40 years and at the end of this initial period each party may terminate by giving six month’s notice. There is no in-built provision for terminating before 40 years even if we were to suffer for any reason in the implementation of the deal. These 40 years are expected to cover the period by which we intend to take thorium utilisation to a commercial reality. A coincidence? It is naive to judge the merits of the deal based purely on the language of the text. The underlying undercurrents and intentions of the controlling party are important and cannot be wished away as hypothetical or as their internal matter when they do actually have serious repercussions on our long-term interests. There has been a careful balancing of US commercial interests with the goal of bringing India into the non-proliferation hold, an American obsession ever since the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty came into existence in 1970. There have been overt suggestions in the Hyde Act to the American administration to not only attempt to cap but also try to eventually roll back our strategic programme and report to the US Congress. Try they will; but whether we are smart enough to thwart their designs or they manage to succeed — given the tremendous access they get through this deal is something time will tell. Let me turn to some of the most contentious issues that have not been satisfactorily resolved. *Reprocessing* This has been stated to be the most hotly debated issue. Let me therefore deal with it in some detail in simple terms to put things in perspective. Reprocessing is at the core of our three-stage nuclear power programme. It is the interface between the first and the second stage and again between the second and the third stage. In the first step, it facilitates extracting plutonium from the spent uranium fuel and feeding to the fast breeder reactors in the second stage as fuel — where thorium fuel is also introduced. When thorium is converted into fissile uranium in the fast reactors, the same is extracted by reprocessing to be fed into third stage reactors where large-scale thorium utilisation occurs. It was once estimated that with the limited resources of uranium in the country more than 350,000 MW of electricity could be produced through thorium utilisation, ensuring long-term energy security. The steady progress India is making with starting the construction of the first 500 Mwe prototype fast breeder reactor is an envy of many in the advanced world. Recognising the key role of reprocessing, development activities were started as early as 1959 — much before even the first nuclear power reactor became operational at Tarapur in 1969. While the first power reactor was imported from the US, the first reprocessing facility was built entirely through indigenous efforts and went into operation in 1965. The irony is, the US — knowing fully well our four decades of experience in reprocessing and aware of its importance in our three-stage programme — has sought to create impediments and make us beg for reprocessing consent, that too after accepting us as strategic partner. What hypocrisy! Should we call this nuclear cooperation or non-cooperation? Is it not obvious that their intention is to place hurdles on our thorium-utilisation programme right from the beginning? In fact, even though there is what is called a fast reactor nuclear fuel cycle, not a word is mentioned in the Agreement on fast-reactor cooperation. The text calls for all future fast breeder reactors to be put under the civilian list for applying safeguards in perpetuity — just because plutonium extracted from imported uranium spent fuel is fed into these reactors. It is a pity our negotiators have chosen not to pursue extending the cooperation into the area of fast reactors at least to the extent that we should be able to access the international market for equipment and components which otherwise have to be produced by Indian industry with considerable effort The way the reprocessing issue has been resolved certainly does not give any comfort. What has been agreed to is consent in principle, with the arrangements and procedures to be agreed in the future. Having offered a dedicated facility for reprocessing imported fuel, we should have got unconditional upfront consent to be made effective on satisfactory conclusion of safeguards. The intent of the American legislation is to deny reprocessing rights to NPT countries that don’t already have this technology. We cannot be equated with Japan, which��Burns reportedly said has been used as a model for resolving this issue. I can say from personal knowledge that Japan was totally unhappy in dealing with the US while negotiating procedures and arrangements in the late 1970s for their reprocess. 

An overview of world thorium resources, incentives for further exploration and forecast for thorium requirements in the near future

 Jayaram, K.M.V. (Department of Atomic Energy, Hyderabad (India). Atomic Minerals Div.) Abstract Thorium occurs in association with uranium and rare earth elements in diverse rock types. It occurs as veins of thorite, uranothorite and monazite in granites, syenites and pegmatites. Monazite also occurs in quartz-pebble conglomerates, sandstones and fluviatile and beach placers. Thorium occurs along with REE in bastnaesite, in the carbonatites. Present knowledge of the thorium resources in the world is poor because of inadequate exploration efforts arising out of insignificant demand. But, with the increased interest shown by several countries in the development of Fast Breeder Reactors using thorium, it is expected that the demand will increase considerably by the turn of the century. The total known world reserves of Th in RAR category are estimated at about 1.16 million tonnes. About 31% of this (0.36 mt) is known to be available in the beach and inland placers of India. The possibility of finding primary occurrences in the alkaline and other acidic rocks is good, in India. The other countries having sizeable reserves are Brazil, Canada, China, Norway, U.S.S.R., U.S.A., Burma, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey and Sri Lanka. Considering that the demand for thorium is likely to increase by the turn of this century, it is necessary that data collected so far, globally, is pooled and analysed to identify areas that hold good promise. Reference: Proceedings of a technical committee meeting on utilization of thorium-based nuclear fuel: current status and perspectives held in Vienna, 2-4 December 1985 International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna (Austria) IAEA-TECDOC–412, pp:8-21 The accumulation of thorium reserves of India is party attributed to the reworking of beachsands by seawaves (almost like a cyclotron or sieving operation to remove small stones from fresh husked paddy by women in India) given the nature of the ocean currents and the Rama Setu (Adam’s bridge) acting as a barrier to the ocean currents inducing countercurrents. Views of Prof. Rajamanickam, geomorphologist and mineralogist: “The coast between Nagapattinam to Nagore, Nagore to Poompuhar, Colachal and Madras were the places where the strong impact from the Tsunami was noticed. These were also the places where a high order of ilmenites was found soon after the Tsunami. For example in the Nagore coast, the pre-Tsunami heavy mineral content of 14 per cent jumped to 70 per cent of ilmenites after the Tsunami.” Monazite, a radioactive material, contains 3 to 7% thorium by weight. Ilmenite less radioactive, contains .05% thorium.  Chavara mineral division, India Rare Earths Limited. Corporate office: Plot No.1207,Veer Savakar Marg, Near Siddhi Vinayak Temple, Prabhadevi,Mumbai – 400 028 +91 22 24382042/ 24211630/ 24211851, 24220230 FAX         +91 22 24220236 Major Activity : Mining and separation of Heavy Minerals like, Ilmenite, Rutile, Zircon, Sillimanite, Garnet and Monazite from beach sand.  Also engaged in chemical processing of Monazite to yield Thorium compounds, Rare Earth Chlorides and Tri-Sodium Phosphate. Dr. S. Suresh Kumar, Head Tel. No: (0476) 268 0701 – 05 Located 10 Km north of Kollam, 85 Km from Thiruvananthapuram capital of Kerala and 135 Km by road from Kochi is perhaps blessed with the best mineral sand deposit of the country.The plant operates on a mining area containing as high as 40% heavy minerals and extending over a length of 23 Km in the belt of Neendakara and Kayamkulam. The deposit is quite rich with respect to ilmenite, rutile and zircon and the mineral-ilmenite happens to be of weathered variety analyzing 60% TiO2. The present annual production capacity of Chavara unit engaged in dry as well as wet (dredging/ up-gradation) mining and mineral separation stands at 1,54,000t of ilmenite, 9,500t of rutile, 14,000t of zircon and 7,000t of sillimanite. In addition the plant has facilities for annual production of ground zircon called zirflor (-45 micron) and microzir (1-3 micron) of the order of 6,000t and 500t respectively.  MANAVALAKURICHI (MK) MINERAL DIVISION: Plant is situated 25 Kms north of Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin), the southern most tip of the Indian sub-continent. All weather major seaport Tuticorin and the nearest airport at Thiruvananthapuram are equidistant, about 65 kms from the plant site. Nagercoil at a distance of about 18 kms from the plant, is the closest major Railway station. MK plant annually produces about 90,000t ilmenite of 55%. TiO2 grade, 3500t rutile and 10,000t zircon in addition to 3000t monazite and 10,000t garnet based primarily on beach washing supplied by fishermen of surrounding five villages. IREL has also mining lease of mineral rich areas wherein raw sand can be made available in large quantities through dredging operation. In addition to mining and minerals separation, the unit has a chemical plant to add value to zircon in the form of zircon frit and other zirconium based chemicals in limited quantities.                                                                                                                                  RARE EARTHS DIVISION (RED) Aluva:  Unlike the three units of IREL as described earlier, RED is an exclusively value adding chemical plant wherein the mineral monazite produced by MK, is chemically treated to separate thorium as hydroxide upgrade and rare earths in its composite chloride form. It is located on the banks of river Periyar at a distance of 12 Km by road from Kochi. This plant was made operational way back in 1952 to take on processing of 1400t of monazite every year. However over the years, the capacity of the plant was gradually augmented to treat about 3600t of monazite. Elaborate solvent extraction and ion exchange facilities were built up to produce individual R.E. oxides, like oxides of Ce, Nd, Pr and La in adequate purities. Today RED has built up large stock pile of impure thorium hydroxide upgrade associated with rare earths and unreacted materials. Henceforth, RED proposes to treat this hydroxide upgrade rather than fresh monazite to convert thorium into pure oxalate and rare earth as two major fractions namely Ce oxide and Ce oxide free rare earth chloride.  The total known world reservesof Thi nRA R category are estimated at about 1.16 million tonnes. About 31% of this (0.36 mt) is known to be available in the beach and inland placers of India…Prior to the second world war thorium was used widely in the manufacture of gas mantles, welding rods, refractories andin magnesium based alloys .Its use as fuel in nuclear energy, in spite of its limited demand as of now and low forecast, is gaining importance because of its transmutation to 233 u. Several countries like India, Russia, France and U.K. have shown considerable interest in the development of fast breeder reactors (FBR) anditisexpected thatbytheturnof this century someofthe countries would have started commissioning large capacity units… Beach sands: Although monazite occurs associated with ilmenite and beach sands, skirting the entire Peninsular India, its economic concentration is confined to only some areas where suitable physiographic conditions exist.The west coast placers are essentially beachorbarrier deposits with development of dunes where aeolin action is prominent in dry months…  Origin of West Coast deposits: …The deposits are formed in four successive stages:(i) lateritisation of gneissic complexes, (ii) successive mountain uplift and simultaneous seaward shift of strand line., (iii) reworkingof the beach sands by sea waves, which rise often to a height of 12s.period and (iv) littoral drift caused by the breaking of thewaves faraway from the shore and consequent northerly movement of lighter minerals along the reflected waves… In Manavalakurchi, Tamil Nadu, the depositis formed by the “southerly tilt of the tip of the peninsula [9] aided by seasonal variation of sea currents, both in direction and magnitude [Udas, G.R.,Jayaram, K.M.V., Ramachandran, M and Sankaran,R.,Beach sand placer deposits of the world vs.Indian deposits. Plant maintenance and import substitution.1978.35.] … The reasonably assured resources of thorium in India, form about 31% of  the world’s estimated deposits.The reserves could have been several times more if systematic surveys are carried out…  Indian ocean currents both east to west and counter currents result in a churning operation and consequent deposition of heavy minerals such as thorium or titanium.This is a colour version of Figure 11.3 of Regional Oceanography: an Introduction by M. Tomczak and S. J. Godfrey (Pergamon Press, New York 1994, 422 p.). Major ocean currents of the world. On this illustration red arrows indicate warm currents, while cold currents are displayed in blue. (Source: This map shows the unique phenomenon of two ocean currents in two opposing direcions operating like a cyclotron/sieve to isolate heavier minerals with heavy atomic weights such as Thorium 232 and Titanium. Beaches of Kerala with thorium sands.
 Importance of thorium for Bharatam’s strategic program           From BARC website: Thorium deposits – ~ 3,60,000 tonnes            The currently known Indian thorium reserves amount to 358,000 GWe-yr of electrical energy and can easily meet the energy requirements during the next century and beyond.           India’s vast thorium deposits permit design and operation of U-233 fuelled breeder reactors.            These U-233/Th-232 based breeder reactors are under development and would serve as the mainstay of the final thorium utilization stage of the Indian nuclear programme.   This is underscored in a US report: where, Tellis, the point-man for Indo-US nuke deal notes that India reserves of 78,000 metric tons of uranium. The interests of US are best served by selling uranium and nuke reactors instead of allowing India to gain self-sufficiency using indigenous thorium reserves. The extraordinary monograph by Prof. Monu Nalapat, Prof. of Geopolitics in Manipal University, notes with forthrightness and clarity and unravels the shocking sell-out of the national interests, national integrity and national security of Bharatam, ignoring the sage advise of the nation’s foremost nuclear scientists. [quote] The Indian position has been deliberately made murky, given the lack of an adequate official response to recent statements made by the US that have described the proposed “strategic” partnership for what it is—a non-proliferation mechanism intended to bring India into the now tattered NPT fold as a non-nuclear weapons state. Should Congress finally get their way and force this agreement on the nation, not only should the pact be torn up by the successor government, but both should be prosecuted for high treason. [unquote]  The issue of thorium as the nuclear fuel which will unleash the nuclear potential of Bharatam has been underscored in the BARC website. One of the principal earth science reasons for the accumulation of thorium resources on Kerala beaches is the oscillating, sieving action of the ocean currents around Ramasetu. Incursive channel in an arbitrarily drawn medial line between Bharatam and Srilanka as a defacto boundary of international waters, discarding the age-old rights as ‘historic waters’ under the UN Law of the Sea, is a serious dereliction of responsibility on the part of the Setusamudram Channel Project designers. PM and UPA Chairperson have to explain to the nation for the undue haste and carelessness in choosing an alignment impacting on RamSetu while five other alternative channels closer to the Bharatam coastline were available. Was the new, arbitrarily drawn medial line as the channel alignment influenced by US Navy Operational Directives of 23 June 2005? Is it mere coincidence that the inauguration of SSCP takes place within a week thereafter, on 2 July 2005 ignoring the imperative subjecting the impact of a future tsunami on the integrity of the coastline if the present chosen alignment is implemented? Together with the destruction of Kerala, will it impact on the harnessing of the thorium resource as the foundation fuel for the nuclear programme of Bharatam? As the trial for treason unravels, in case Bharatam succumbs to US geopolitical pressures, a lot of questions will have to be raised and answered. Was the PM satisfied by the answers (provided on 30 June 2005) to the 16 questions raised by PMO on 8 March 2005?  The US study pointing to the urgency of striking the Indo-US nuclear deal can be downloaded from Tellis notes that India reserves f 78,000 metric tons of uranium.  •eight reactors allocating a quarter of their cores for the production of weapons-grade material, uranium needed would be: 19,965 to 29,124 tons. T two research reactors will need 938 to 1,088 tons.  • These would yield India 12,135 to 13,370 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium.  •Thorium blanket as fuel will be the nuclear fuel of the future for Bharatam, which has the largest reserves of thorium in the world. A team of scientists led by Dr. VJ Loveson of the CISR New Delhi, studying placer deposits in the area, says an estimated 40 million tonnes of Titanium alone has been deposited in the entire stretch of 500 km. coastline.  The message is loud and clear: somehow, Bharatam should be dissuaded from pursuing an independent, self-reliant nuclear programme using thorium blanket on fast-breeder reactors. With thorium resources accumulated thanks to the ocean currents and counter currents facilitated by Rama Setu, the consequences will be serious if the next tsunami were to desiccate these resources together with the devastation of the coastline of Tamilnadu and Kerala.  


5 Responses to Thorium: strategic nuclear fuel of India

  1. cialis says:

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  2. Amrik Jayewardene says:

    Thorium should be regarded as a liquid fuel that operates best at atmospheric pressure with containment, in case of thermal runaway, below the reactor core. Online reprocessing is much simpler if the chemistry of the fuel/coolant mixture facilitates temperature dependent phase alteration to aid separation.

    On this technical specification India and the US need to lead technical innovation in much of the world to build an open sourced reactor design that will be the base load carrier for power into the foreseeable future.

    Being unable to build such a reactor just goes to show that the human species is still embroiled in confusion, ignorance and greed.

  3. Strange this post is totaly irrelevant to the search query I entered in google but it was listed on the first page. – Its absolutely impossible, but it has possibilities. – Samuel Goldwyn 1882 – 1974

  4. shefki says:

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    President of “Kumega” Ltd
    Shefki Hysa

    Commercial Association Kumega Ltd
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    Quarter Partizani, Burrel
    Tel & Fax: 00355 4 366 573
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