Recently established “Rare Earth International” is consortium between the major Indian producers of mineral sands V V Minerals, Toyota Motors of Japan and Less Known Metals of UK. This consortium had approached the government with a proposal to secure monazite as byproduct from the garnet, ilmentite and zircon mining of mineral sands in Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu, use the REE concentration plant already built by Toyota at Vishakhapatnam (Vizag) and use the new technology developed by the British company LCM to separate thorium-uranium from the REEs. In a move that is remembered as one of the most business friendly reforms by the government all permits were granted to this consortium within a week. Not stopping at that, the government went ahead and revised the policy opening doors for private participation in the REE and nuclear fuel research as long as no export of the dual use material or technology is done without express approval of the government. The revised policy now also allows the monazite processing integrated plants to claim tax credits against the thorium-uranium submitted by these integrated plants to the DAE. Using the tax credits the Rare Earth International recently hired MPXG Exploration of Hyderabad to conduct a major reconnaissance programme for mineral sands along the East Coast of India. The CEO of Rare Earth International Mr Muthurajan commented “…rapid government clearances have enabled us to help Indian industry self sufficient in rare earth permanent magnets (REPMs). This reconnaissance is expected to triple our resources and within the next five years our consortium is slated to become the leading Rare Earth Magnet producer…” The assured supply of REPMs has prompted Toyota to start building an electric vehicle production line at Vizag. This is just their second such electric vehicle line outside Japan. It is rumored that the American giant Tesla, world’s leading electric vehicle manufacturer has approached the Indian government to explore possibility of building their next Gigafactory and have been exploring sites in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamilnadu. A few years back the US President had banned Chinese components from US defense equipment and asked defense suppliers to diversify critical metal supply lines away from areas of Chinese influence. The rapid growth of REE industry in India and the assured availability of REPMs in India has prompted NATO defense manufacturers to consider India as a major supplier of these critical metals. It is expected that the Indian government will soon license sale of these dual use products to NATO defense manufacturers. Such a deal is currently being considered under the ongoing two plus two negotiations between India and the United States. A US government official remarked off the record that with a stable REE industry and integrated REPM production some NATO manufacturers may consider moving part of their manufacturing lines to India. The Indian foreign and defense officials have declined to comment.
DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or businesses, or actual events is purely coincidental.