India sets sights on home-mined minerals to boost its clean energy plans – by Anupam Nath and Sibi Arasu (Associated Press – July 18, 2023)

KALIAPANI, India (AP) — In the dusty mountains of eastern India, workers at the country’s largest chromium deposit have mined for the essential ore, rain or shine, for around 60 years.

The industry is fruitful in some ways — hundreds of trucks stacked with mineral-rich soil journey back and forth regularly between the mine and processing plants — but it is damaging in others. Farmers say their fields are stripped of fertile earth and livestock desperately comb through now-barren lands for feed.

“We used to grow chilies and other vegetables earlier but now when it rains all the soil from the mines washes onto our fields,” bringing with it harmful effluent, said Gurucharan Mohant, a 60-year-old farmer from the nearby village of Kaliapani. “Nothing grows here anymore.”

Chromium, used mostly as a coating to stop rust in steel and car parts, has been deemed necessary for India’s transition to cleaner energy. A layer of chromium makes solar panels more efficient, and the mineral is also used in wind turbines and batteries.

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