Minerals Current Affairs - 2019
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The first titanium project of India has started its test production Ganjam district of Odisha. The project has been established by Saraf Group.
This is first of its kind titanium plant and the only one in the country. During the test run, one of its four furnaces became functional.
- After inception, this plant is expected to produce 36,000 tons of titanium slag and 20,000 tons of pig iron per year.
- The raw material of the plant ilmenite would be procured from Odisha Sands Complex (OSCOM), a unit of Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) in Ganjam district of Odisha as well as a private company which has its unit in Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh.
Earlier in August 2015, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had fully commissioned and started commercial production at the first indigenous Titanium Sponge Plant at Chavara in Kerala. This plant had commercially started producing Titanium Sponge exclusively for the space programme and strategic areas especially in aerospace and defence areas. With this commissioning India became the seventh country in the world producing Titanium sponge commercially.
The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of contract with and International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules (PMS).
The contract is between Union Ministry of Earth Sciences and ISA. It has been extended for a further period of 5 years (2017-22) as the earlier contract is expiring in March 2017.
What are Polymetallic Nodules?
- Polymetallic nodules (PMN) are also known as manganese nodules.
- They are potato-shaped, largely porous nodules found in abundance carpeting the sea floor in the deep sea of the world oceans.
- Besides manganese and iron, they contain nickel, copper, cobalt, lead, molybdenum, cadmium, vanadium, titanium.
- Of these metals nickel, cobalt and copper are considered to be of economic and strategic importance.
What extension of Contract means?
- By extending the contract, India’s exclusive rights for exploration of PMN in the allotted Area in the Central Indian Ocean Basin will continue.
- It would open up new opportunities for resources of strategic and commercial value in area beyond national jurisdiction.
- Further, it would provide strategic importance for India in terms of enhanced presence in Indian Ocean where other international players are also active in mineral explorations.
- India had signed a 15 year contract for exploration of PMN in Central Indian Ocean Basin with the ISA in March, 2002 with the approval of the Union Cabinet.
- Under this contract, India is having an area of 75,000 sq km located about 2000 km away from her southern tip for exploration of PMN.
- The Union Ministry of Earth Sciences is carrying out Survey and Exploration, Technology Development (Mining and Extractive Metallurgy) under PNS program through various national institutes.
About International Seabed Authority (ISA)
The ISA is an intergovernmental body that organizes, regulates and control all mineral (non-living resources) related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. It functions under the aegis of the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Presently, the ISA has 167 members and the European Union. The headquarters of ISA is located at Kingston, Jamaica.