Visakhapatnam: Andhra Pradesh tops among other coastal states in the country in having underwater heavy mineral placers like most valuable Ilmenite, Monazite etc. According to a note of union ministry of mines, latest underwater seabed survey by Geological Survey of India (GSI) had estimated around 115.69million tonnes of these heavy minerals along Andhra Coast followed by Odisha with 68million tonnes, Kerala & Tamil Nadu coats combined, 11.26 and Maharashtra with 5million tonnes.
Maharshtra has only ilmenite reserves while other states have other heavy minerals also. While these heavy minerals are already available along north Andhra beach sand and mining is already underway in Srikakulam beaches, extraction of these minerals is environmentally safe and sustainable due to the absence of radioactive thorium in the host sediments of marine origin.
GSI, an attached office of Ministry of Mines, has identified Heavy Mineral Placers- Ilmenite, Monazite, Garnet, Zircon, Sillimanite, Rutile,- construction sand, carbonate sand, lime mud, phosphorite, gas hydrate, iron manganese crust etc. along Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Territorial Waters (TW) off the coast of different states of the country.
GSI had had started mapping the TW since 2014 and spent around Rs 229.18 crore until the just ended financial year on the job.
Around 936 million tonnes of construction sand was also found along Kerala coast. Other than Kerala no other coastal state had construction sand under the sea along their respective coast line. “Depletion of terrestrial mineral resources has forced us to turn our attention to the vast potential of mineral resources within the offshore areas of our country. Marine and Coastal Survey Division (M&CSD) of Geological Survey of India has carried out more than 700 cruises within the EEZ of India since 1983 to generate baseline marine geoscientific data. Seabed mapping carried out so far lead to exploration for economic heavy minerals (HM) in the Territorial Waters (TW) of India which has resulted in the delineation of huge deposits of economic worth,” said GSI former director, Suresh Kumar Wadhawan in a paper submitted to Indian National Science Academy recently.