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India to stop private miners from directly exporting mineral sands

The Indian government has directed state-run Indian Rare Earths Ltd. to handle all mineral sand exports from the country, effectively stopping all private mineral sand miners from shipping product to overseas customers, Mining Weekly reported Aug. 31.

The new restriction, which aims to stop the illegal mineral sands trade, would impact the sand mining coastlines in the southern Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Odisha.

According to the report, the Indian government opened up mineral sand mining for private miners a few years ago. The new directive, however, is expected to put an end to private mineral sand mining activities, as they were largely dependent on foreign customers.

Government officials said that higher volumes of mineral sands would be available to key Indian strategic manufacturing industries, including the defense, aerospace, aviation, telecommunications and energy sectors, all of which are heavily reliant on imports, according to the report.

However, some private miners said the restriction would weigh on the production of mineral sands and hamper the availability of the product to downstream user industries.

The private miners also argued that Indian Rare Earths would only serve as a channel for exporting the the commodity as it was not involved in production beyond its own need for captive consumption. Private producers would no longer feel encouraged to increase production, according to the report.