Australian Mines Unveiled for Lithium and Cobalt Supply

Australian Mines Unveiled for Lithium and Cobalt Supply

India's search for essential minerals overseas has achieved notable progress, thanks to Australian authorities' identification of five key mines containing lithium and cobalt. These endeavors are led by India's state-owned Khanij Bidesh India (KABIL), a joint venture between NALCO, Hindustan Copper, and Mineral Exploration Corporation.

The mines discovered by Australian authorities encompass a mix of already explored assets and some that hold identified reserves of lithium and cobalt. This development comes after close collaboration between India's Ministry of Mines, KABIL, and Australia's Critical Minerals Office, all working towards securing a steady supply of critical minerals essential for India's ongoing transition towards cleaner energy sources.

The partnership between India and Australia commenced shortly after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Together with Japan, they initiated efforts to establish a resilient supply chain and decrease their reliance on China. This effort received a significant boost through the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), backed by investments from KABIL and the Critical Minerals Office. As this alliance progresses, discussions about incorporating a chapter on critical minerals are anticipated in the upcoming full free trade agreement (FTA).

Australian Mines Unveiled for Lithium and Cobalt Supply

Expanding beyond Australia, the Indian government is actively seeking similar opportunities in Mongolia, Argentina, and Chile, with a focus on minerals like copper and lithium. Just this week, Sunil Barthawal, the commerce secretary, highlighted discussions about potential FTAs with Peru and Chile, aiming to secure vital mineral resources to bolster India's strategic interests.

Recognizing the importance of processing capacity for these minerals, particularly since China holds a dominant global position, India is taking steps to establish its processing capabilities. The government plans to invite interest from research laboratories to develop technologies that can effectively process these minerals for use in battery manufacturing. Beyond international efforts, India has also identified 30 critical minerals for exploration and mining, both domestically and globally.

Recent amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act are set to stimulate domestic mining activities, especially among "junior miners" who typically engage in exploration and development stages. Notably, India's efforts in domestic mining are being significantly escalated, with authorities underscoring that the country's expenditure on these activities, at around $150 million, pales in comparison to the $2 billion spent in Canada and over $1 billion in Australia.

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