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India planning 1st auction of rare earths deposit

India is planning to revise its rare earth mining policy to allowthe auction of at least one rare earth deposit in Barmer, Rajasthan state, to boostproduction in the short term in a bid to compete with China, Mining Weekly reported March 31, citing asenior official from the Mines Ministry.

Researchers in the U.S. are exploring ways to recover rare earthelements from coal waste as the material is in low supply while China over theglobal market.

The plan is to put one deposit up for auction on an experimentalbasis, although it is still unclear whether only government owned miners, privateminers, or both will be allowed to bid.

According to the source, the government has directed GeologicalSurvey of India to complete a baseline survey of 1,000 square kilometers in theBarmer desert to prepare the deposit for auction. The survey is expected to completein 2017 and the selected deposit will be put for auction for further detailed explorationand mining projects.

Preliminary studies suggest that low thorium can be extractedfrom the deposit.

The maiden auction is expected to help calculate base price andauction parameters, the official noted.

According to a 2014 reserves estimate date, the country hostsabout 1.25 million tonnes to 11.93 million tonnes of monazite, the news outlet said.

Currently, state-run IndianRare Earths Ltd. is the sole producer of rare earths in the country,which has a contract withToyota Tsusho Corp. toprocure mixed rare earths chloride, the raw material of rare earths.