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Oz identifies 5 mines of lithium, cobalt for India

Times of India | 18 August 2023

Oz identifies 5 mines of lithium, cobalt for India

NEW DELHI: India’s hunt for critical minerals overseas has met with some success with Australian authorities identifying at least five mines of lithium and cobalt for Indian entities, led by state-owned Khanij Bidesh India (KABIL), the joint venture between state-run NALCO, Hindustan Copper and Mineral Exploration Corporation.

"These are a mix of explored assets and some where reserves have been identified, which includes lithium and cobalt," a government official told TOI. The mines ministry, KABIL and Australia’s Critical Minerals Office have been collaborating to secure supplies of critical minerals, seen to be crucial for India’s energy transition.

The India-Australia partnership had begun soon after the Covid-19 outbreak as they started work, along with Japan, to establish a resilient supply chain and reduce their dependence on China.

The Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) intensified the efforts with KABIL and Critical Minerals Office putting in funds. The alliance is expected to move to the next level in the full free trade agreement (FTA), where there will be discussions for a chapter on critical minerals.

In fact, the government is also seeking similar opportunities in Mongolia, Argentina and Chile, with copper and lithium among minerals on the radar in these countries.

Earlier this week, commerce secretary Sunil Barthawal said India is discussing the possibility of FTAs with Peru and Chile, keeping its strategic interest to secure critical minerals in mind.
Steps are also being taken to ensure that processing capacity for these minerals - where China has global dominance - is created. The government is planning to seek interest from labs to work on technologies that can be deployed to process them for use in manufacturing batteries.

India has identified 30 critical minerals where it is seeking to explore and mine domestically, apart from internationally.

The recent amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act will help push domestic mining, especially from "junior miners" who typically engage in the exploration and development stage. Efforts for domestic mining are being stepped up significantly, officials said, adding that India spent just around $150 million compared to $2 billion in Canada and over $1 billion in Australia.

 source: Times of India