Distribution of Uranium and Thorium in India 

Mains Marks Booster     5th August 2023        
Samadhaan

Atomic Minerals in India

India possesses abundant reserves of atomic minerals, including uranium and thorium, which are vital for nuclear energy production. Additional atomic minerals such as beryllium, lithium, and zirconium also contribute to India's mineral wealth. 

Uranium in India

  • Uranium deposits in India are primarily found in crystalline rocks.
  • Jharkhand state holds 70% of the country's uranium reserves.
  • Major uranium deposits occur in the Singhbhum and Hazaribagh districts of Jharkhand, Gaya district of Bihar, and Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The estimated total reserves of uranium in India amount to 30,480 tonnes.
  • India currently produces about 2% of the world's uranium. 

Mines of Atomic Minerals in India

  • Uranium Mines: Jaduguda, Bhatin, Narwapahar, Bagjata, Turamdih, Banduhurang, Mohuldih
  • Other Minerals with Atomic Content:
    • Monazite: Concentrated on the Kerala coast, containing an estimated 15,200 tonnes of uranium.
    • Ilmenite: Found in Jharkhand state.
    • Beryllium: Reserves present in Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.
    • Zirconium: Discovered along the Kerala coast and in alluvial rocks of Ranchi and Hazaribagh districts.
    • Lithium: Widely distributed in the mica belts of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Bastar region of Chhattisgarh. 

Thorium in India

  • India possesses the largest thorium deposits globally.
  • Thorium is derived from minerals like monazite (containing 10% thoria and 0.3% urania) and thorianite.
  • India aims to advance to the third stage of nuclear fuel consumption, relying on thorium to achieve self-reliance in nuclear fuel supply.
Thorium in India

Uranium Distribution Worldwide

  • Primary uranium deposits are abundant in Australia, Kazakhstan, and Canada.
  • Significant mines include Olympic Dam and Ranger mine in Australia, and the Athabasca Basin region in Canada.
  • Kazakhstan leads global uranium production with 42% of the world's supply, followed by Canada (13%) and Australia (12%). 

Uranium Situation in India

  • Jharkhand: Jaduguda, Bhatin, Narwapahar, Bagjata, Turamdih, Banduhurang, Mohuldih
  • Meghalaya: Kylleng, Pyndeng-Shahiong (Domiasiat), Mawthabah, Wakhym
    • Lambapur-Peddagattu, Tummalapalle 

Thorium: A Promising Element

  • Thorium, symbolized as Th with atomic number 90, occurs naturally in significant quantities. Thorium is estimated to be three to four times more abundant than uranium in the Earth's crust.
  • Monazite sands, found widely on the Kerala coast, serve as the primary source of refined thorium. Thorium has the potential to replace uranium as nuclear fuel, although few thorium reactors have been completed to date. 

Monazite and Rare Earth Metals

  • Monazite is a reddish-brown phosphate mineral containing rare earth metals. Rare earth elements are crucial for various modern technologies, including electronics, communication, clean energy, and defense.
  • There are 17 rare earth elements, including the fifteen lanthanides and scandium and yttrium. 

Conclusion

India possesses substantial reserves of uranium and thorium, with efforts underway to achieve self-reliance in nuclear fuel supply. The country's abundant atomic mineral resources contribute to its ambitious plans for expanding nuclear energy production. 

Samadhaan