Heavy minerals in India are found in the coastal areas on the beach surfaces washed off from the waves in the ocean. Particularly found in coasts of Odisha, Andhra Pradeshm Tamil Nadu, the East coast of Kerala and Maharashtra. There are about 5 to 6 minerals abundantly found on the Indian shores like Garnet, Ilmenite, Rutile, Zircon, Sillimanite etc., in varying percentages.
The percentage of minerals found on one coast may vary from another coast, for instance, the beach sand of Tamil Nadu have higher percentage of Garnet while the coasts of Kerala have higher content of Ilmenite. Likewise, Odisha has more of ilmenite content and Andhra Pradesh has Ilmenite as well as Garnet content higher than other minerals.
Prior to our country’s independence, and until recently, heavy mineral mining was regulated by a government based company called IREL (Indian Rare Earths Ltd). Since the beginning of 1980, beach sand mining was open to private sector, except for mining of monazite. Since then three or four private firms have started exploiting the beach mineral sands in Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari & Ramanathapuram districts in Tamil Nadu, mostly for their Garnet and Ilmenite contents.
The IREL concentrated their mining activities in Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and Kollam in Kerala. They mainly focussed on recovery and upgradation of Ilmenite, Zircon and Monazite. Monazite is a cerium phosphate, used mainly for extracting Thorium and Cerium oxides after 2/3 stages of processing. IRE was also selling the Garnet in the domestic market.
One of the premier companies that indulge in heavy mineral mining of Garnet is V.V. Mineral. They are India’s biggest mining, manufacturers and exporters of Garnet. They have been awarded as the ‘Number One Garnet Exporters’ of our country. They also undertake Zircon mining, Rutile mining and Ilmenite mining. It is family grown business started by Mr. S Vaikundarajan, Chairman of VV Group of companies.