Large Deposits of Minerals Discovered in Andhra Useful in Electronics, Nuclear Tech, Aviation and Green Tech
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In an another significant development, scientists at the CSIR-National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) in Hyderabad have discovered the presence of Light Rare Earth Elements (REE) in the Ananthapur district of Andhra Pradesh.

The discovery of these REE minerals has varied applications and usage including manufacturing components in electronic devices such as smartphones, computers, TVs, automobiles, medical devices, jet aircraft and Nuclear reactors.

Moreover, the discovery will reduce India's reliance on foreign imports of these critical minerals, and will break China's near-monopoly on the production of rare earth elements.

The discovery was part of a study funded by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-India) under a project called SHORE (Shallow subsurface imaging Of India for Resource Exploration).

The Light Rare Earth Element minerals discovered include Lanthanum, Cerium, Praseodymium, Neodymium, Yttrium, Hafnium, Tantalum, Niobium, Zirconium, and Scandium.

Confirming the minerals hosting these REE, Dr Raju PVS, Senior Principal Scientist, NGRI, told news agency PTI, "We found strong anomalous (enriched) Light Rare Earth Elements (La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Y, Nb and Ta) in whole rock analyses." 

300 samples were subjected to further studies to understand the potential of REE Minerals. Dr. Raju said that deep drilling for at least a kilometre will help ascertain the consistency of the elements’ presence underground.

Silvery white Lanthanum is used in Hybrid car batteries, studio lighting and cinema projection as it increases the brightness and give an emission spectrum similar to the sunlight.

In current most significant usage of Lanthanum is in NiMH batteries, which can be found in many models of the Toyota Prius, a hybrid car that uses both internal combustion engine & electric motor. Each electric Prius motor requires 1 kilogram of Neodymium, and each battery uses 10 to 15 kg of Lanthanum.

About Praseodymium, its primary use is as an alloying agent with magnesium to create high-strength metals that are used in aircraft engines.

And, Neodymium has most important use in making very strong permanent magnets. Neodymium magnets are the strongest permanent magnets known in the world. A neodymium magnet of a few tens of grams can lift a thousand times its own weight. Neodymium also offer an effective way to improve the efficiency and performance of crucial clean energy technologies. However, the production of these elements is environmentally and economically costly.

Yttrium is often used in the making of microwave filters for radar and has also been used is used in lasers that can cut through metals.

Hafnium is a good absorber of neutrons and thus used in nuclear submarines or nuclear reactors. As alloys, Hafnium is used for liquid-rocket thruster nozzles, for example the main engine of the Spacecraft, Apollo Lunar Modules, had Hafnium alloy consisting 10% Hafnium. Niobium is used as alloy in jet engines and rockets, beams and girders for buildings and oil rigs, and oil and gas pipelines. This element also has superconducting properties

Scandium is a strong metal and its main application is in aluminium-scandium alloys for minor aerospace industry components. An aluminium-scandium alloy has been used in Russian MIG fighter planes, high-end bicycle frames and baseball bats.

The potential hubs for these REE-bearing minerals are Dancherla, Peddavaduguru, Danduvaripalle, Reddypalle Chintalchervu and the Pulikonda complex in Anantapur and Chittoor districts of Andhra Pradesh. 

Notably, Anantapur, officially Anantapuramu district, in Andhra Pradesh is well known for its gold resources. Ramgiri, a village in Anantapur district has gold mines.

Earlier in February, Geological Survey of India discovered 5.9 million tonnes of lithium deposits in Jammu and Kashmir, which is crucial for Electric Vehicles industry.

About NGRI, headquartered in Hyderabad it was established in 1961 and has the mandate to conduct research for public-good science to enable government agencies, public and private sector stakeholders to make informed decisions about use of geo-resources sustainably and improve preparedness and resilience to natural hazards

NGRI is a constituent research laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) 

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