Home Bangladesh Valuable minerals to be extracted from river sand
Bangladesh - December 20, 2023

Valuable minerals to be extracted from river sand

Australian cos to search in Brahmaputra-Jamuna

Mahfuz Emran: For the first time in the country, the government is going to lease the river bed to extract five precious minerals. In the first phase, this process is starting in three areas of Brahmaputra and Jamuna rivers in Sadar and Phulchhariupazilas of Gaibandha district. For this reason, the Bureau of Mineral Resources Development (BMD) will sign a five-year contract with Australia’s Everlast Minerals Limited (EML) next month. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already given in-principle approval to the lease agreement.
According to sources, the negotiations committee meeting will be held on December 19 to finalize the scope of the river bed lease agreement. It will be presided over by Additional Secretary (Operation) of Energy and Mineral Resources Department Mohammad Zakir Hossain.
Mohammad Zakir Hossain told, convener of the lease committee, “Discussions are underway with the Australian company to extract minerals from the river sand. We have a meeting ahead of this.
When asked when the deal could be completed, he said, “It is in the process.”
Director of BMD (Joint Secretary) Abul Basar Siddique Akon said, “Different countries of the world are extracting various types of valuable minerals from sand. Initiatives have also been taken in this regard in Bangladesh. The Australian company will extract five heavy and valuable minerals from the river sand. That’s why the contract process is going on.
When asked what will happen to the other minerals apart from the heavy five, he said, “The matter is still under discussion.”
It is known that the Australian company EML will search for five precious and heavy minerals in three areas or blocks of the Brahmaputra-Jamuna shelf in Sadar and Phulchhariupazilas of Gaibandhar. The total area of these three blocks is 2,395 hectares. Out of this, the first block has an area of 799 hectares in Balasi located in Jamunapad in PhulchariUpazila of Gaibandha. The second block includes 798 hectares of Mollarchar and the third block includes 798 hectares of Kamarjani.
Those concerned said that after the final lease agreement, valuable minerals such as zircon, rutile, garnet, magnetite and ilmenite will be extracted from the area covered by the lease. Among these minerals, zircon is used in ceramics, tiles, refectories and molding sands. Currently, Australia, South Africa, India, China, Brazil, Sierra Leone and the United States export this mineral throughout the world.
Minerals called rutile are used in the production of paint, plastic, welding rod, ink, food, cosmetics, medicine. Australia, India, Italy, Sri Lanka, Thailand, South Africa, Sierra Leone and the United States export this valuable mineral all over the world.
The heavy and valuable mineral garnet is used in the manufacture of serous paper, cleaning of iron pipes and sand blasting. Currently, Australia and India export the mineral around the world.
Magnetite mineral is used in magnet production, steel production, cleaning of coal extracted from mines and drilling of deep wells in oil and gas exploration. Only two countries in the world export this precious mineral all over the world. The two countries are South Africa and Australia.
Apart from this, ilmenite mineral is used as raw material for making titanium metal, welding rod and paint production. Australia, South Africa, Madagascar, Mozambique, Indonesia and India export this precious mineral all over the world.
The concerned officials said that in 2021, Everlast Minerals Limited (EML) applied to BMD for exploration of mineral sand on 4,000 hectares of Brahmaputra river bed and river bed of Sadar and Phulchhariupazilas of Gaibandha district. In view of this a delegation of BMD visited the said area. Later they are sent to the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources for approval along with recommendations for licensing. When permission was sent to the Prime Minister from the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources, he gave his approval.
BMD granted exploration license to EML for an initial period of two years after obtaining approval from the Prime Minister. Later the license was extended for another year. The company completed its exploration activities and submitted the final report and feasibility study and extraction plan to BMD by the middle of this year.
According to the report, Bangladesh now imports the minerals that can be found and mined in the Brahmaputra-Yamuna sands. If these precious minerals can be extracted in the country, import dependence will be reduced and foreign exchange will be saved. Apart from this, there is an opportunity to earn foreign currency by exporting to meet local demand.
According to the exploration and feasibility report of the company, there are 4 lakh 40 thousand 491 tons of zircon in the explored area. 1 lakh 88 thousand 371 tons can be extracted in 10 years. According to the current market price, the cost of each ton of zircon is $1,050.
Potential reserves of rutile are 2 lakh 90 thousand 88 tons. 1 lakh 40 thousand 889 tons can be extracted in 10 years. According to the current market price per ton of tiles is $840. Potential reserves of garnet are 27 lakh 81 thousand 417 tons. 13 lakh 69 thousand 967 tons can be extracted in 10 years. The price of garnet is $75 to $210 per ton.
Potential reserves of magnetite are 6 lakh 11 thousand 429 tons. 2 lakh 95 thousand 788 tons can be extracted in 10 years. The cost of magnetite is $84 per tonne. Apart from this, the potential reserves of ilmenite are 8 lakh 65 thousand 119 tons. Out of this, 3 lakh 75 thousand 184 tons can be extracted in 10 years. The price of ilmenite is $ 110 per tonne.

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