Industry calls on the government to create the ‘India Rare Earths Mission’

Industry has encouraged the government to create the “India Rare Earths Mission” in order to reduce India’s dependence on China for imports of vital rare earth minerals.

Rare Earth Metals

  • A group of seventeen metallic elements is known as the rare earth elements (REE). These comprise the 15 lanthanides listed on the periodic table, in addition to scandium and yttrium.
  • Numerous high-tech equipment depend on rare earth elements.
  • Particularly high-tech consumer goods like cellular phones, computer hard drives, electric and hybrid cars, flat-screen monitors, and televisions have a wide range of uses for them.
  • Electronic displays, navigational aids, lasers, radar, and sonar systems are all used extensively in defence.
  • Future industries like wind turbines and electric vehicles depend on magnets made from rare earth minerals with names like neodymium, praseodymium, and dysprosium.

India Rare Earths Mission

  • Industries in India have urged to set up a Mission, manned by professionals, making their exploration a key part of the government’s Deep Ocean Mission agenda, much as the India Semiconductor Mission.
  • In addition to diversifying sources of supply for these strategic raw materials, it would aim to promote private sector mining in the industry.
  • In reference to China’s “Made in China 2025” effort, which focuses on novel materials and employs rare earth minerals to create permanent magnets, the business group has proposed adding rare earth minerals in the “Make in India” campaign.

Reasons for this

  • Despite having 6% of the world’s rare earth reserves, India barely contributes 1% to global production, and it imports the majority of the rare earth minerals it needs from China.
  • For instance, 92% of imports of rare earth metals by value and 97% by quantity came from China in 2018–19.

Way Forward

  • Utilizing the potential of the nation’s own rare earth reserves is necessary.
  • For such an essential and strategic raw material, this would support the development of domestic capability and a wide-range of supply sources.
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