01/27/2010, 00.00
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Heavy minerals discovered in Cox’s Bazar

by William Gomes
About 1.76 million tonnes are estimated to be in the ground. Some minerals contain titanium. An Australian company has applied to develop the resources. It could help the country’s fledgling economy.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The discovery of valuable heavy minerals in Bangladesh could kick start  the country’s economy. A total of 17 mineral sands deposits containing 23 per cent heavy minerals for an estimated reserve of 4.35 million tonnes have been identified. Only eight are economically viable though, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) Chairman Mosharraf Hossain. They are: ilmenite, zircon, rutile, magnetite, leucoxene, kyanite, garnet and monazite.

For a decade or so, BAEC scientists have been studying the sea beach where the minerals were found. The minerals are scattered in an area of about 8,000 hectares of land in Cox's Bazar district, Bangladesh's foremost tourist resort area, about 390 kilometres from the capital Dhaka.

Bangladeshi authorities have already set up a government committee to manage the resources.

An Australian firm, Premier Mineral Company, a few months ago applied for development of the mineral resources from the beach.

Many heavy minerals found in Bangladesh are in high demand, both at home and abroad. For this reason, exploiting such resources will require cooperation or a joint venture with foreign countries with experience in mineral development, Mosharraf told AsiaNews.

Ilmenite, leucoxene and rutile are important because they contain some of the highest concentrations of titanium.

The world’s main titanium deposits are in Australia, North America, Scandinavia and Malaysia.

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