Critical Minerals, Recoverable from Radioactive Materials for Value-Addition: Indian Examples
Critical Minerals (CMs) are mostly metals and a few non-metals, which have diverse, important industrial uses and, thus, are vital for the economic well-being of the Society, but their supply may be at risk due to several factors. They occur in three sources, viz., primary, from ore deposits, recoverable mostly as by-products and less as main products; secondary, extractable from waste materials like the electronic waste and tertiary, in imports. The list of CMs is dynamic and depends upon their availability and perspective of each country, and, hence, may change with time. For India, 33 CMs were proposed earlier by the author ̶ Sb, As, Be, Bi, Cs, Cr, Co, Ga, Au, C (natural), Hf, He, In, Li, Ni, Nb-Ta, PGMs, REEs, Re, Rb, Sc, Se, Ag, Sr, Te, Sn, Ti, W, U, V and Zr, and potash, and phosphate (proposed now, making the total 34), required for the fertilizer industry. Of these, > 60% CMs may be recoverable from radioactive materials (RMs). Examples of these with their contents in diverse RMs from various parts of India are presented and discussed. From such RMs, the CMs-carrying minerals are to be first recovered and concentrated by physical beneficiation techniques of gravity/magnetic/EM. Next, the CMs in such minerals are to be extracted and purified by appropriate methods of chemical-/biochemical-/nano-technology, for which extensive R&D is to be carried out. By this swadeshi (indigenous) way under the Prime Minister’s Make in India programme, the Country’s requirement of critical/strategic minerals can be met to a notable extent, besides value-addition during the processing of RMs for their main products.