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Mineral Separation Plant

Last Modified: Sept. 1, 2003
Other Name: N/A
Location: Manavalakurichi, India
Subordinate To: Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)
Facility Status:

The Mineral Separation Plant at Manavalakurichi is the oldest plant of its kind in India. It is located 25km north of Kanyakumari at Manavalakurichi in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The plant has operated under various ownerships since 1910. Between 1965 and 1967, Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) procured all the mineral separation and recovery plants in India including the plant at Manavalakurichi. The plant mines and processes sand in the production of industrial minerals such as ilmenite, rutile, monazite, zircon, sillimanite, and garnet. The plant conducts dry mining of beach washings, which are then processed through wet gravity separation equipment. Through the separation process, heavy minerals are isolated using their individual specific gravity, electrical conductivity, magnetic susceptibility, and surface characteristics. In addition to mineral separation, the Manavalakurichi Plant is also home to a zirconium oxide plant that chemically treats zircon to form zircon frit (which is used by the Nuclear Fuel Complex to produce zircaloy components). Operations at Manavalakurichi have occasionally raised environmental protests from local fishermen.

Sources:
[1] DAE (Government of India), "Annual Report 2000-2001," Executive Summary available at www.dae.gov.in;
[2] "Nuclear Fuel Cycle," Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), 31 January 2002, www.dae.gov.in;
[3] "Nuclear Material Production Facilities," Global Security.org, 12 August 2002, www.globalsecurity.org;
[4] T.K. Mukherjee, "Indian Rare Earths - Its Genesis and Growth," Nuclear India, Vol. 34, No. 7-8, January-February 2001.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.

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