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India to launch policy to boost critical mineral supply

  • : Metals
  • 24/05/20

India is working on a critical mineral policy to boost domestic supplies, and plans to collaborate with resource-rich countries in critical minerals mining and processing.

The mines ministry and related government institutes like the Geological Survey of India (GSI) are working on a policy to drive domestic exploration and processing of critical minerals, a source close to the development told Argus. Discussions are currently progressing, the source added without providing details on the timeline. India is looking into all aspects to boost domestic production of critical minerals, the source said.

India is also seeking critical mineral supplies from overseas to feed burgeoning demand from the green energy and electric vehicle (EV) industries. The Indian government is in talks with several countries including Chile, Australia, and some African countries, over opportunities for mining and technology collaboration for lithium processing and other critical minerals.

Critical minerals like copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earths are important for the development of clean energy technologies, including wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles and battery storage. It is crucial for India, which currently relies heavily on imports of lithium-ion cells from China, Japan and South Korea, to develop a robust battery supply chain to meet its ambitious target of 30pc EV penetration by 2030.

India is currently conducting feasibility tests on five projects of lithium and cobalt in Australia, said Ministry of Mines' secretary VL Kantha Rao at Khanij Bidesh India (Kabil)'s office opening ceremony on 11 May. Kabil, a joint venture between state-run Nalco and Hindustan Copper and Mineral Exploration, was formed to explore and produce strategically important minerals overseas. The firm in January signed an agreement with Argentinian state mining company Catamarca Minera y Energetica Sociedad del Estado (Caymen) to explore five lithium brine blocks in the Catamarca province of Argentina.

India's mines ministry and Rao held several meetings over the past two months with the Chilean government and Chilean state-owned firms such as Empresa Nacional de Mineria and Codelco on critical minerals opportunities. India has also spoken with deputy minister of mining and heavy industry of Mongolia, Uyanga Bold, on co-operation in the critical mineral sector.

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