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Septuagenarian: IREL celebrates platinum jubilee of its formation

IREL (India) Limited marked the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, as it has completed 70 years of dedicated service to the nation, customers and stakeholders
Platinum Jubilee: IREL marks 70 years of its formation
Platinum Jubilee: IREL marks 70 years of its formation

New Delhi: IREL (India) Limited will celebrate the entire year as a platinum jubilee year to mark the completion of the PSU's 70 years. "The journey over the seventy years showcases the innovation, effort, perseverance, and versatility of the Company which has resulted in developing a brand value recognised the world over," IREL said in an official statement on Thursday. 

To kick off the platinum jubilee celebrations, IREL organised a series of webinars. Eminent speakers from Institutions, Research Laboratories delivered talks in the webinars. The concluding ceremony of the Platinum Jubilee year was organised by hosting a two-day conference on “Rare Earths Road Map for Energy Security of Self-Reliant India” (REES-2021) in association with the Rare Earth Association of India (REAI)  between August 18-20. 

Distinguished personalities like NITI Aayog's Member Dr VK Saraswat, Atomic Energy Commission's Chairman & Secretary of DAE KN Vyas, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre's Director Dr AK Mohanty graced the inaugural function virtually, while NSCS Additional Secretary Dr Ram Mohan delivered the keynote address. 

IREL (India) Limited's CMD D Singh set the tone of the conference in his opening remarks by highlighting the importance of Rare Earths in achieving energy security. He proudly informed that despite the monopoly of China in the field, India is one amongst 2 to 3 countries and IREL under DAE is the only company in India that has the capabilities to produce Rare Earths. He said that he is sure, the deliberations, presentations during the conference would lead to the way forward to the development of an eco-system for the RE sector in the country.

Dr Mohan in his keynote address emphasized and lauded the role of IREL in separating out the radioactivity and making radioactive free products including minerals and rare earth available to the industry and society at large. He wished India to be a hub of the RE industry and mentioned the limitation of Heavy Rare Earths in Indian resources that are critical for strategic and other applications and the need of the hour is to augment the supplies of heavy rare earth in particular. 

Guest of Honour, Dr AK Mohanty in his address said that the theme chosen for the conference to mark the Platinum Jubilee of IREL is apt in the wake of the recent development in the RE field especially in securing the energy needs of the country and hoped the deliberations at the conference will be the basis for formulating the road map for the sustainability of the nation and will be a pathfinder to the nation becoming a global economic power.

In the presidential address, Vyas mentioned the Atomic Energy programme being conceived by the visionary founder Dr Homi J Bhabha with a three-stage programme envisaged to exploit the vast reserves of Thorium for Nuclear Energy. The task was difficult and challenging as RE presence is of the order of 0.06% with certain RE present in ppm-level. However, technical capabilities and processes have been developed with support R&D work carried out by BARC and so far, IREL has been able to perform its duty excellently.

Dr Bhabha had formulated a business model for IREL based upon commercial exploitation of polymetallic deposits towards making the organization financially self-sustainable. It is indeed noteworthy that significant progress has been made since those early beginnings. IREL is today a profit-making enterprise of DAE having more than 35 products under its portfolio catering to the varied requirements of nuclear, defence, space, petrochemical, automobile, and several other industries.

IREL has made a significant contribution to meet the needs of DAE and serve its mandate in several ways such as thorium stockpiling to meet 3rd stage nuclear energy program, supply of Zircon to NFC for manufacturing Zircalloy for Nuclear Fuel Claddings and supply of Rare Earths such as Dysprosium, Gadolinium and Samarium which are available in trace quantities to meet the specific needs of the department.

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Dr Saraswat stressed that energy has become the foremost requirement to accelerate economic growth for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. For the success of global efforts in climate change mitigation pollution control and energy security for a low carbon economy, sustainability of the Rare Earth industry is very important. The synergy of BARC in R&D and IREL in processing and refining Rare Earths is successful in positioning India actively on the Global RE map. Rare Earths in general and IREL, in particular, would be instrumental in contributing to this growth and achieve great heights in days to come. 

During the inaugural function, a Monograph titled “Rare Earth in India – The Incredible Voyage of Endurance” was released highlighting the history of the sector encompassing journey traversed, salient milestones achieved, challenges faced, etc. The Conference was participated by the Rare Earth fraternity across the country. Eminent speakers from Atomic Energy, Scientific Institutes and Industries presented talks on various aspects of the Rare Earths Sector including exploration, processing, intermediate products and applications.

The conference concluded with a Panel discussion in which the road map for developing a tight rope ecosystem for Rare Earths was deliberated. Summing up the discussions,  IREL CMD stressed the need to develop a national rare earth mission and policy advocacy, government push and support to overcome the industry dilemma for investment in the rare earth sector, collaboration between industry and research institutions and development of an ecosystem to build an efficient supply chain to meet the growing need for Rare Earths towards self-reliant India. 

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