[Energy] Thorium Mining vs. Policy on Exploitation of Beach Sand Minerals

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Unacademy Plus Mrunal Economy for Prelims and Mains UPSC!
  1. What is Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)?
  2. What is the Policy on Exploitation of Beach Sand Minerals?

What is (DAE)?

  • Department of Atomic Energy
  • An independent Department directly under the Prime Minister.
  • Mind it: This dept doesn’t fall under any other ministry such as Ministry of Power, or Ministry of Science and Technology – this is an important fact for CSAT/APFC MCQs.

Policy on Exploitation of Beach Sand Minerals?


  • Kerala and Orissa, the sands contain monazite, ilmenite, zircon, rutile, garnet and sillimanite.
  • Mining and production of these minerals was reserved for the public sector
  • but in 1998 policy changed to allow selective entry of the private sector.
  • now, Private firms can extract and sell rare ores such as garnet and ilmenite from these sands but they cannot process or sell radioactive monazite leftovers. They’ve to store it at their own cost or fill it back in the mines.
  • The beaches of Kerala and Orissa, hold 70+ % of India’s estimated monazite reserve of 18 million tonnes.
  • Department of Atomic Energy, wants the Government to amend this policy- with a new provision that Private firms, should hand over these monazite leftovers to Indian Rare Earths (IREL) – which will then process it and try to extract thorium.
  • And this thorium can be then used as fuel in the Nuclear reactors.
  • A 300 MW nuke-reactor requires 50+ tonnes of fuel in its core initially and about 5  tonnes subsequently each year.
  • Given the amount of thorium rich sand we’ve in Kerala and Orissa, we can provide continuous supply of fuel to our nuke-reactors for many years.

Donot get confused

  • Monazite is a type of “Mineral” –> You extract Thorium (a type of “ELEMENT”) from it –> use Thorium as fuel to run your Adanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR).
  • It is pretty easy for the examiner to twist these facts and come up with pretty MCQs.
Indian History Freedom Struggle Pratik Nayak

6 Comments on “[Energy] Thorium Mining vs. Policy on Exploitation of Beach Sand Minerals”

  1. very very cool article! here is some more info for the curious sole:

    1) we indians have loads of thorium but our scientists cannot seem to find a profitable way of turning it into energy- Abdul Kalam has been much bashed about in the newspapers for his support to thorium but little can be done unless we have a solid backing in the form of a reactor technology that is efficient and safe.

    2) scientifically, we’re at a dead end. we are trying to use thorium in a dry cycle+water cooled model which means that not only is it not that efficient (in terms of chances of fission taking place per second) but also unstable and therefore unsafe.

    3) the way out is something called a molten salt reactor developed by the good people of USA in the 60s (but shelved because Ronald Reagan wanted to create more jobs and this technology was still in its infancy therefore they went with uranium reactors which were ready to be set up) and is now perfected by Americans as well. However, it is very costly and requires a fundamental uprooting of all knowledge we have so far on reactor technology.

    4) There is an international body which is supposed to facilitate sharing of nuclear reactor design technology between countries under OECD called MEDP (Multinational Design Evaluation Programme) – India is a member however multi-bi-lateral diplomacy can only do so much, without money thorium is a pipe dream.

    Have fun ya’ll!

  2. thanks mrunal
    positive approach , beautiful presentation,………..

  3. Hello sir,
    can you please give me a list of minerals on the basis of highest producing state and highest deposits,
    1. Iron
    2. Coal
    3. Aluminium.
    4. Manganese
    6. Magazine
    7. Petroleum
    8. Nuclear material
    please give latest data there is a great confusion in books

  4. Thank you for this article

    §ℋ☺§ℋ۩ k☼Ɲ₸…♫.

  5. Sir if possible give all nuclear related deals like 123 agreement , NPT treaty, NSG group, Nuclear power growth, its advantages and disadvantage..all details sir……Thanks…

  6. sir,could bring up with an article on nuclear power programme of india, pwr,phwr,awr in ur style?

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