Rare Earth-metal

Monazite in Jamuna

A precious mineral named Monazite, an essential rawmaterial for producing battery, laptop charger and mobile magnet, has been discovered in the sands of Jamuna River, the geologist sources said. Geologists have confirmed that this type of monazite is very essential for industrial use, which can meet the increasing local demand.

The state-owned organization Geological Survey of Bangladesh (GSB) informed that the presence of the fine mineral in the Jamuna sand is about six to ten percent. Monazite is a reddish-brown phosphate mineral containing rare-earth metals. Monazite is an important ore for thorium, lanthanum, and cerium. It is often found in placer deposits. India, Madagascar, and South Africa have large deposits of monazite sands.

Compared to other monazite producing countries, the presence of the mineral is high in Jamuna sand; a geologist of GSB has confirmed this to Bangladesh Post. He said that through collecting this heavy mineral from the river or sea, other countries are being economically benefited. Based on government approval, if the mineral can be collected commercially, government will be able to sell them to the battery manufacturers and other users and thus save foreign currency required now to import.

Under the project titled ‘Identification and Economic Assessment of the Valuable Minerals in the River Sand of Bangladesh’, country’s geologists have found the presence of this mineral in Jamuna sand. A total of 10 geologists divided into five groups carried out researches at different areas of the river’s basins stretching from the north to the south of the country.

About the mineral’s economic identification, the project paper showed, monazite is an important ore of thorium and rare-earth metals. Thorium compounds are used in incandescent lamp mantles. Thorium is a radioactive metal and could be used in nuclear industry fuel assemblies. Rare piles of the earth are used in the autocatalyst, metal alloys, hard drives in laptops, hybrid engines, headphones, petroleum refining, and magnet.

Based on the project information it was learned that the officials have surveyed 3000 square kilometers from the centre Basin of Jamuna River to Goalundo, the old Brahmaputra and the Meghna River were geologically explored for valuable heavy minerals. The project results showed, the significant presence of heavy minerals has been detected up to the depth of 30 meters and as such, huge heavy mineral resources are likely to be available in sand bars of the surveyed area.

Like monazite, there are other minerals like Rutile and Ilmenite and Leucoxene (source of titanium oxide), Zircon (used in ceramic tiles production and sanitary ware), Magnetite (used in manufacturing steel, iron products and others), Kyanite (used to manufacture refractory products), Sillimanite (used to manufacture metals, glass, ceramics and cement) and Garnet (used in making various emery papers and clothes, polishing glass and grinding wheels) are found in the survey.

The authorities concerned said, these valuable minerals can be collected commercially for battery production. The country is dependent on imports for the mineral. “If necessary steps are taken to collect the mineral, soon the country will be able to export it after meeting local demand,” said the officials. “If these resources prove to be exploitable it may generate revenue to the tune of few billion dollars,” they further added.