SAND AND MINERAL BASED INDUSTRIES IN KERALA OR WILL KERALA SHINE IN MINERAL MARKET? Prof.ThrivikramjiK.P. thrivikramji@yahoo.

com Introduction A wise man once said “civilization exists with geological consent”. Though it was not quite well understood in those days like it is to day, examples of petrified human bodies in a layer in volcanic ash (Pompeii), or a buried village centre in an earthquake (preserved in one of the islands in mediteranian) are examples of massive destruction by one or other geological process that unleashed destruction and death. Unfortunately an average citizen is unaware of these. Even in respect of Tsunami, we have an example of destructive waves that wiped out the beach strollers in Alexandria. As the population in those days were miniscule compared to what It is today, the no. of lives lost then would not appear to be alarming for us. Perhaps far more people die now due to natural disasters like floods, landslides, earthquakes and technological disasters (MIC of Bhopal). The cave man came out of the cave and built cities and paved streets like in Indus valley, or in the ancient Rome only because of the skills and technologies (application of specialized knowledge) that he mastered and used to modify materials around his environs or how to process and extract metals like iron and copper out of it. Right from those days mining, smelting and manufacturing existed – all are in to day’s terms exploitation of nature. Quality of life of a society is directly related to the wealth (whether natural or man-made) they make use of in every day life. Only moot point is about the parameters or method or basis of assessing the quality of life. What ever be the basis, to a lay citizen, it is equivalent of good food, healthcare, education and a place to live or a house. All of us would agree that with the rise in the population and rise in the demand for better services, environs and products, our ability to find more and more natural inputs gets trapped in the law of diminishing returns. So we continue to look again and again at the earth for our basic needs and not so basic needs. There is a very large question, how big a population that the earth can support by itself. Any way, we have proved ourselves that it is possible to support at least 6. Billion people, though all of them may not enjoy the same quality of life. The only place we can look for and gather the basic input materials in any one or more of the states of matter is the mother earth or planet earth. We may also have to understand that it is a closed system, i.e., only energy goes in or out of it but not matter. . . The Frame work Problem or situation now as far as Keralites are concerned is about the need to preserve or make use of the natural bounty we are blessed with. I bring the nonliving resources like wealth of minerals and rocks of the state to the spot light for consideration. At the very outset, for the benefit of the lay reader, a primer on the the geologic profile of the state is offered. The land area (=38863 km2) is divided into highland, midland and coastal land. Highland and midland are really geologically very antique and is underlain by very ancient rocks (crystalline metamorphics and small intrusive -20 or so- granite bodies) as old as 600 ma or more (but the later basic intrusives still younger) The laterite cover draping most of the midland is 65 ma or younger. The Cliff forming rocks in Papanasam Beach or parts of Kannur shoreline are still younger and belong to the category of Sedimentary rocks. The so called golden beach sand fringing the modern beaches and made the state god’s own along with certain other natural systems,

are perhaps the youngest of all. Truly, the black sand placers of Chavara-Kayamkulam belt also is part of the former. The rock formations and sediment cover (irrespective of their age and state of compaction or induration) occurring in the land area and EEZ (exclusive economic zone) of nations and states are warehouses of natural mineral wealth. Admittedly, Kerala is not endowed with a vast mineral potential, and there is no surprise in this when we consider the size (area =38863 km2) and the geologic profile of the terrain. Kerala is one of the densely populated states of the union, with a support square of only 36 m side. There are 41 west flowing and 3 east flowing rivers of which 11 belong to the category of medium (basin area=20000-2000 km2) rivers while the rest group under small rivers (basin area=<2000 km2). Majority of Kerala rivers has been around for a very long geological time and at least from cretaceous time, when a climate congenial for formation of laterite, had set in. Mineral Resources Nonetheless, the state is well known in the world over for the Ilmenite and monazite rich black mineral sand, china clay and gold in Nilambur. Yet the state is known world over for the black sand mineral accumulation, seasonally along the beaches between Chavara and Kayamkulam as well as in the offshore. China Clay deposits of Kerala, though of limited extent, are very significant considering the market potential due to its very special nature. Clays are associated with the Warkalli series of rocks of Tertiary age and also with the residual laterite formed on the crystalline gneissic rocks. Though the gold occurrences in the Nilambur Valley encouraged the British company to take up exploration and mining in this sector, better and larger deposits of gold in the Mysore plateau attracted the industry over to there. To day’s skyrocketing gold price in the Bullion market forces my mind to re-examine the prospects of mining alluvial gold as well as primary gold from Nilambur valley. Prospect An egalitarian society contemplated by the founding fathers of the Union of India and enshrined in the constitution of India, will remain a distant dream if housing for all or equity in housing is not provided for. The worth and value of mineral sand are misunderstood and grossly misinterpreted by the leaders and individuals of the society. This mineral wealth is regenerated every year during the SW monsoon. The monsoon of India is as antique as the Paleocene period, say 65 ma. BP. The rivers have been supplying sediment to the proto Laccadive sea since then. A period of 65 ma would have weathered at least 65 m thick slab of rocks from the highland and midland regions of Kerala or approximately 33263 Km2 area of Kerala or let us say 30000 km2 area yielding a sand volume of about (33000x0.065 Km3x0.33) 707 km3, or let us say 700 km3. A vast portion of this sandy sediment is in the onshore Warkalli basin and offshore Kerala Konkan basin. If 10 % of this sediment remained unconsolidated and lies in the modern sea bed (in the Kerala continental shelf of approximately 40,000 km2), it will supply the mineral sand to the Kerala beaches and should continue to do so for 4 to 6 generations to come in the future. However, the system of supply to offshore and transport during SW monsoon to on shore is a

continuum, as a geoscientist I believe that the process of accumulation will go on into the distant future. If sand is not removed from the beaches or let us say we stop mining of beach sand, being a dynamic system and open system, the beach between Chavara and Kayamkulam will face a “room problem” and will not allow the beach to build wide or tall than what it is today soon after the monsoon. The accumulation process is strictly controlled by the availability in the seabed of sand, wave energy and relative sea-level in the west coast of India. All these factors are nature-controlled and hence does not follow our wish or will. The data tables 1, 2 and 3 provide sufficient insight into the monetary worth of the mineral sand of Kerala. One important input in the construction industry is what are called coarse aggregate (a.k.a. metal) and fine aggregate (a.k.a. fine aggregate which is unfortunately equated with river sand). Both are extensively used in making concrete and mortar. Any large scale housing project should demand huge investment in respect of materials and money. As we all would know housing sector consumes huge volumes of manufactured inputs like cement and steel, electrical wires and lamps as well as sanitary fittings. Very large skilled and semi-skilled man-power is employed directly and indirectly by this sector. In so far as the fine aggregates are concerned, the basic instinct even today is to gather it from the river bed. Removal of river sand did not affect the physical system or the ecosystem of the river any way in the early decades of the last century. Till the end of the second 5yr. plan, housing was not a priority sector of any developmental activity. The administration worried about housing for individuals employed directly in the government sector or say in the public sector. Employees in the lower echelons and their housing needs never received any proper attention. With the dawn of seventies and opening up of the employment market in the West Asian countries, housing sector received a new impetus. So did the demand for inputs including the fine aggregate or sand and by choice the river sand. Gathering sand from river channels of Kerala or as it is addressed now as mining of river sand, reached feverish peaks with the entry of Banks as well as other financial institutions in the housing sector. (Last yr. for e.g., banks of Kerala released close to 7000 Crore to the housing sector). This is figure is a window to the construction boom in Kerala. NABARD on the other hand provides assistance in the form of loans part of which finally ends up in certain special areas of construction sector. ADB and WB have also financed and financing construction of bridges and roads. What ever be the ultimate use of the built structure, there is an input of sand or fine aggregate along with cement and steel. As a result of removal of sand, all the rivers of Kerala are either already dead or dying. Both aesthetically and scientifically, a true river channel shall contain sediment in the channel bed and flowing water above it. Sediment will not move as fast as the water. When the water flows over the sediment in the channel, sediment particles are propelled down stream but in a stop and go fashion. Finer particles of course would float down in the water at the same velocity of the moving water. Saving the rivers of the Kerala is like saving any heritage we have. Only difference being the former is a natural heritage. If no river sand is available we must be using sand manufactured by crushing the rocks (like was done in respect of the dams at Idukki and Sabarigiri hydel projects). A picture of production of river sand by nature is provided in the Table 4. The steep rise in gold price should be a good reason to examine the prospects of mining primary gold from Malappuram dist and Palakkad dist. The environmental clearance can be sorted out with the ministries and state administration. It may take a longer while like the clearance for Sabarimala projects.

Summary 1. A geoscientist does not find any reason for not making use of the natural-rock and mineral resources – available in the state. 2. The revenue generated from this sector can add to the GDP and any economic activity should help the citizens to improve their living conditions, which is the aim of any administration. 3. With the knowledge and initiative we have, it must be possible to solve the problems arising out of such projects. No modern man will run away from problems, but will venture to find solutions. We have not yet fathomed the human mind. Acknowledgements I thank the organizers for the invitation to participate in the Kerala 2nd Kerala Vikasana Seminar. ------ .

Table 1. Monetary worth of Mineral sand reserve, Chavara-Kayamkulam Belt (Anthraper and Samuel, 2005) Million Tons 1645.51 144.02 88.48 6.02 4.31 5.22 0.99 0.56 34.38 0.89 3.28 Monetary worth, (Rs.,Crores) 13272.0 9036.0 6459.0 9399.0 2062.0 40229.55

Item Total Raw sand Total HM Ilmenite Rutile Leucoxene Zircon Monazite Garnet Silimanite Kyanite Other

Value, Rs./T

1,500.0 15,000.0 15,000.0 18,000.0 3000.0

Table 2. Valuation of 4.0 million tons of mineral sand (Anthraper and Samuel, 2005) Annual Accrued Accrued Cost, Rs Mineral Production, value in 30 value in 50 (Crores) T/yr yr yr Ilmenite Rutile Leucoxene Zircon Sillimanite 1,000,000.0 100,000.0 50,000.0 80,000.0 40,000.0 150.0 150.0 75.0 144.0 12.00 3000.0 3000.0 1500.00 288.0 240.0 7500.0 7500.0 3750.0 7200.0 600.0

Total

1,270,000.0

425.0

6422.40

21240.0

Table 3 Additional data Mineral Sand Tonnage factor of Raw sand = 3600 kg or 3.6 tons Volume at 4.0 mt = 1111111.1 m3 Area to be mined= a sand cake of 1 m (thickness) x 1111111.1 m2 (area) Or slightly over 1.0 km2 (or 100 ha) i.e., 111.1 ha.

Table 4 Construction Sand Rivers 41 west flowing 1.0 m3 of country rock has 0.33 % of quartz (sp.g, 2.65 and Hardness, 6.0) or 1.0 m3 will yield 0.33x2.65 tons of quartz sand ~870 kg or 0.8 ton of sand I.0 m thick layer of rock needs nearly a million years of time to release the quartz to form sand. All quartz will not be in sand grade so let us say per m3 yield is about 750 kg or 0.75 ton. Nearly 66% is feldspar and should yield a similar quantity if the rock is crushed, 1500 kg or 1.5 ton Q+F =2250 kg or 2.25 ton Allowing a waste of say 10%, 2025 kg or 2.025 ton If crusher sand is used in construction sector, rivers can be saved and will regenerate at least with in next 3 to 6 generations. Rate of weathering is so slow and low @ 1.00/yr or even lower.

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