The discovery of valuable heavy minerals in Bangladesh could kick start the country’s economy. According to Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Mosharraf Hossain, 17 mineral sands deposits containing 23% heavy minerals with an estimated reserve of 4.35 Mt have been identified. Eight regarded as economically viable are ilmenite, zircon, rutile, magnetite, leucoxene, kyanite, garnet and monazite.
The minerals are scattered in an area of about 8,000 ha in Cox's Bazar district, Bangladesh's foremost tourist resort area, about 390 km from the capital Dhaka.
Bangladeshi authorities have already set up a government committee to manage the resources and an Australian firm, Premier Mineral Company, has applied for a development permit.
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, Mr Hossain 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.