CSIR-Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology, Bhubaneswar initiative to recover useful heavy mineral values lost in IREL, Chatrapur plant tailings

Chatrapur:  A number of heavy minerals, such as, ilmenite, rutile, garnet, monazite, zircon, and sillimanite are found in different placer deposits along the coastline of India. IREL Limited (Formerly Indian Rare Earth Limited) is engaged in mining and processing of beach sand minerals in the Eastern and Southern coast of India. Presently IREL has the capacity to process about 6 lakhs tons of beach sand per annum. During processing, IREL is generating huge quantity of plant tailings which contain about 3.5% of total heavy minerals. The valuable constituents lost in the tailings such as Garnet (1.77%), Sillimanite (1.24%), Rutile (0.04%) and Zircon (0.03%) are of economic concern. In this context, a group of Scientists from CSIR-Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology, Bhubaneswar led by Dr. S. Angadi, Principal Scientist, has identified the process to recover those valuables from the plant tailings for which IREL Ltd. signed an agreement with CSIR-IMMT to develop a technology.
Recently, a new mineral separator was installed and successfully commissioned by CSIR-IMMT at SMP-IV site of IREL. The newly commissioned unit was inaugurated on 3rd October 2021 by Prof. S. Basu, Director, CSIR-IMMT, Bhubaneswar in the presence of Mr. D. Singh, CMD, IREL Ltd. Chatrapur. In the meeting organized at IREL plant site, Prof. Basu opined that this sort of activity falls in to the scope of waste to wealth initiative announced by the honorable Prime Minister for the celebration of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. Mr. Singh expressed his contentment over the recovery of useful heavy mineral values such as garnet and sillimanite after successful completion of the project. Further, Prof. Basu and Mr. Singh expressed their interest to pursue joint R&D projects, of national importance, in the near future.