India plans to step up mapping of rare-earth-mineral reserves over the next two years to boost domestic sources as China is reportedly planning to clamp down on supplies, according to a top official in the Ministry of Mines, India.
The mines ministry has asked the state-run Geological Survey of India, which maps mineral reserves, to undertake a survey to locate all possible reserves of rare-earth minerals. It has also asked the state-run Centre for Techno Economic Options to prepare a detailed report on the status of reserves. According to the official, the efforts will give equal emphasis to mapping the minerals inland and on beach sands.
The ministry plans to start exploration, depending on how quickly the agencies complete the data. The government hopes to begin exploration two years from now or even earlier.
China, which accounts for 95% of the global rare-earth output, had said in July that it will reduce export quotas by 40% in 2010 from last year. Rare-earth metals are critical to a variety of technologies ranging from iPhones to flat screen televisions and hybrid cars, as well as for geothermal, wind and solar energy. India is among four or five countries with known reserves of rare-earth minerals, and they are largely found in the country’s beach sands in southern and eastern states. Small quantities also exist inland along the eastern Jharkhand state’s Chhotanagpur Plateau.