Business Times

Kerala eyes Sri Lankan mineral sand for titanium projects

By Bandula Sirimanna

KERALA -- The Indian state government of Kerala is exploring the possibility of importing mineral sand from Sri Lanka especially from the war-free Eastern region, State Minister of Industries Elamaran Kareem told a visiting Business Times journalist in Trivendrum on Wednesday.

The interview was on the sidelines of a visit by two journalists from Sri Lanka on invitation by the Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Cooperation (KINFRA) to the KINFRA film and video park.
Mr Kareem said that Kerala always welcomes assistance from its Sri Lankan brethren in strengthening techno - manufacturing links between the two countries. “After all you cannot ignore your immediate neighbour and they should work hand in hand towards development and future prosperity,” he said.
The state government plans to purchase mineral sand from Sri Lanka on a regular basis as the country is experiencing a short supply of ilmenite at present. The mineral sand will be used as basic raw material for the 500 tonne titanium sponge plant in Trivendrum.

He disclosed that second phase of the project includes valuable mineral separation, synthetic rutile capacity augmentation and a coal fired boiler. However, the short supply of ilmenite for Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd and Travancore Titanium Products Ltd have made serious dents in profitability of these companies, he said.

The minister expressed the belief that Sri Lanka will become a major supplier of mineral sand for these Kerala companies. Sri Lanka’s main producer of mineral sands is Lanka Mineral Sands Ltd with its main production base at Pulmoddai in the East.

The state government of Kerala is also seeking assistance from Sri Lanka for the setting up of a coconut industrial park in Trivendrum. It will be established exclusively for the coconut industries to produce coconut based products with high value addition modeled on similar theme parks in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Mr Kareem said that they welcome Sri Lankan experts and investors to launch joint venture projects at this proposed industrial park. He revealed that the state government of Kerala is exploring the possibility of importing coir from Sri Lanka as the country’s coir industry is facing a shortage at present.

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