RARE EARTH MINERALS (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Economy)

News-CRUX-10     20th November 2023        
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Context: Recently, the Indian government announced its initiative to spur innovation in the mining sector by offering grants of ₹5 crore to startups and ₹10 crore to incubators, aiming to boost research and development in the extraction of critical and rare earth minerals.

Rare Earth Minerals

  • About: Rare earth elements or metals comprise a group of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table.

oThese elements include the 15 lanthanides, along with scandium and yttrium, which are often found in the same ore deposits as the lanthanides and share similar chemical properties.

  • Reserves and Production: China is the leading contributor to rare earth production, followed by Brazil and Vietnam (18% each) and Russia (15%).
  • India’s Scenario: India has 6% of the world’s rare earth reserves. It only produces 1% of global output
  • Classification of REEs: Light RE elements (LREE) and heavy RE elements (HREE).

Significance of Rare Earth Minerals

  • Essential minerals such as Cobalt, Nickel, and Lithium are necessary for the production of batteries used in electric vehicles.
  • India, with its ambitious plan to transition a significant portion of its transportation to electric, will have an increased demand for these minerals.
  • Cerium, utilized for glass polishing, and lanthanum, employed in car catalysts or optical lenses, represent traditional applications of these minerals.
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