Driven by emerging opportunities in electric vehicles (EVs), wind turbines and LEDs, State-run miner Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation Limited (GMDC) is considering a "scoping study" to determine the economic viability of rare earth elements (REE) processing in Gujarat.

REE are essential for green energy technologies like permanent magnets for EVs, wind turbines and LEDs. GMDC is looking to "outline at least one opportunity to develop a processing plant for the deposit at Ambadongar in Chotaudepur District in Gujarat," a company statement said on Wednesday.

REEs,classified as “strategic minerals” or rare earth metals, are 17 lustrous soft heavy metals with applications in electrical and electronic components, lasers, glass, magnetic materials, and industrial processes.

Their industrial applications include electronics, clean energy, aerospace, automotive, and defence.

REEs are the domain of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) of the Government of India. Gujarat aims to develop local mining and processing of REE, and become a RE processing hub for ores mined in India and abroad.

“GMDC commencing a rare earth processing plant will strengthen the industries that use rare earth elements," said Raj Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary, Industries and Mines Department, who is also the Chairman of GMDC. It will also help make Gujarat a RE processing hub, he added.

Value chain for rare earths

GMDC proposes to conduct a pre-economic assessment for the Ambadongar (Chhota Udepur) deposit involving, among other things, formulating a process flow design and testing for beneficiation and REE oxide production in line with Gujarat’s vision of establishing a complete value chain for REE. It will estimate the investments required and possible returns over the project time horizon, said Roopwant Singh, Managing Director, GMDC.

GMDC plans to set up mining operations, beneficiation plants, and value-addition projects in the proximate zone of such minable resources. The exploration of REE has been taken up by the Atomic Minerals Directorate (AMD) and the Geological Survey of India (GSI), the statement said.