IREL (India) Limited (Official)- CPSE under DAE

Navigating Towards Self-Reliance in Rare Earth Production

Deependra Singh

Chairman & MD,

IREL (India) Limited (Official)- CPSE under DAE

Consistently pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in the field of mineral extraction and processing, IREL (India) Limited stands as a beacon of innovation and excellence in India’s industrial landscape. Since its inception in 1950, IREL has been at the forefront of pioneering advancements, dedicated to securing the nation’s energy future through the extraction of rare earths and essential elements.
Emerging from its genesis in Aluva, Kerala, IREL swiftly ascended to governmental patronage in 1963 under the auspices of the Department of Atomic Energy, solidifying its stature as a crucial Government of India undertaking. Over the decades, IREL strategically expanded its footprint across the southern expanse, establishing mineral divisions in Chavara, Kerala, and Manavalakurichi, Tamil Nadu.
However, it was the inauguration of the Orissa Sands Complex (OSCOM) in 1986 that marked a significant leap forward, propelling IREL into the forefront of mineral extraction on a monumental scale. Today, with a staggering plant capacity exceeding one million metric tonnes per annum, IREL commands the production of ilmenite, rutile, zircon, sillimanite and garnet across its mineral divisions. What truly sets IREL apart is its unwavering commitment to technological innovation. From pioneering methods for rare earths extraction to tackling the challenge of recovering elements with concentrations as low as 1 ppm, IREL has consistently pushed the boundaries of what’s achievable.
Financially adept and operationally nimble, IREL has charted an unprecedented trajectory as a profit-making CPSE, with sales turnover soaring to new heights, propelled by an export component surpassing Rs.9,610 million. With an unwavering focus on the future, IREL envisions itself as a trailblazer in the global clean energy mission, embodying social responsibility while delivering superior-quality materials.
As it strides confidently into the future, TradeFlock interviews Dr. Deependra Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, IREL (India) Limited, to understand how the company stands as a testament to India’s industrial prowess while being a harbinger of a sustainable tomorrow. 

Please highlight pivotal milestones and achievements shaping its growth.

Established in August 1950 under the Department of Atomic Energy for extraction of strategic compounds and Rare Earths, IREL (India) Limited began its mineral processing operations by acquiring assets of private mineral sand producers, culminating in commissioning of its flagship Plant in OSCOM, Ganjam, Odisha. It grew from a Rs. 300-400 crore company in the year 2015- 16 to a Rs. 2300 crore company by 2023-24 through strategic reforms, including increased mineral production and leveraging MSEs. Advancements include rare earths extraction and refining plants in Odisha and Aluva, Kerala, and a rare earths permanent magnet facility in Andhra Pradesh. The company’s efforts positioned India as a global player in refined rare earths production, with initiatives like a rare earth metal theme park in Madhya Pradesh contributing to midstream sector development.

What is IREL's vision and mission, and how does it achieve its goals in rare earth mining and refining?

IREL envisions contributing significantly to the global clean energy mission through highquality materials and socially responsible operations. Our mission entails sustaining and expanding heavy minerals and rare earths businesses, adopting sustainable practices, prioritising customer relationships, empowering employees, and upholding ethical standards. Rare earth minerals are mined to extract and refine high-purity rare earths, crucial for green energy applications. Despite having leaner domestic sources compared to their global counterparts, IREL focuses on producing magnetic and light rare earths. To foster midstream industries, IREL established a rare earths metal plant in Madhya Pradesh, encouraging entrepreneurial ventures in the sector. Through innovation and strategic initiatives, IREL aims to play a pivotal role in shaping a sustainable energy future while upholding the highest standards of integrity and governance.

How does IREL contribute to Make in India, and what specific initiatives align with this national campaign?

IREL actively supports the “Make in India” and “Self-Reliant India” initiatives by supplying processed mineral products to downstream industries, particularly MSEs. With established capabilities in rare earth extraction and refining, IREL contributes to indigenous manufacturing. Initiatives like the rare earth permanent magnet plant and rare earth metal plant, utilising homegrown technologies, exemplify this commitment. Additionally, the upcoming titanium slag plant project aligns with these initiatives, further strengthening India’s self-reliance in manufacturing.

How do IREL's multiple production facilities contribute to its overall operations and product offerings?

IREL’s diverse production facilities, spanning Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, encompass integrated mining and mineral processing operations. With the rare earths extraction plant in Odisha and the rare earths refining facility in Kerala, IREL produces approximately 27 products across 36 grades. These products cater to various downstream industries, predominantly MSEs, with unique applications, fostering a robust performance with a remarkable year-onyear growth rate of around 30%.

How does IREL ensure responsible mining, refining, and environmental impact mitigation?

IREL prioritises responsible mining and refining practices alongside environmental impact mitigation. Our mining and mineral processing activities rely on physical separation techniques, minimising environmental impacts. For rare earths extraction and refining, IREL adheres strictly to AERB guidelines, with Health Physics Units (HPUs) from BARC monitoring operations to ensure compliance. Continuous improvement efforts focus on enhancing environmental sustainability across all operational facets, including mining, processing, and refining.

What is IREL's vision for its role in India's economic growth and industrial development, and what are its aspirations for the future?

IREL envisions its role in India’s economic growth and industrial development as pivotal, contributing significantly to strategic sectors like defence, atomic energy, and renewable energy. Additionally, it aims to support downstream industries utilising its processed minerals, spanning titanium metal and pigments, pharmaceuticals, ceramics, and more. Rare earths, vital for green energy, EVs, defence, and consumer electronics, further underscore its importance. IREL aims to sustain its remarkable growth, targeting to become a Rs.4000 crore company. IREL has a great role in India’s economic growth because with incorporation of Rare Earths in various functional materials, the performance improves multifold and thereby the value of the product. This growth will foster MSE development, drive industrial expansion, and augment government dividends, catalysing broader economic growth and development nationwide.







     







       







         







           







             







               







                 







                   







                     







                       







                         







                           







                             







                               







                                 

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