India Identifies 22 Critical Mineral Blocks for Future Mining
Critical minerals refer to specialized metals and non-metals crucial for high-tech industries, clean energy technologies, defense, aerospace, and electronics. Securing steady supplies of such scarce minerals is vital for India’s self-reliance and strategic interests.
Blocks Across 9 States Explored
India’s Mines Ministry has recognized around 22 critical mineral blocks under exploration across 9 states for possible future auctions. These blocks contain vital reserves like cobalt, titanium, gallium, vanadium, tungsten, lithium, and rare earth elements instrumental in diverse cutting-edge applications. Most blocks are being surveyed by governmental agencies Geological Survey of India (GSI) and Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited (MECL).
Prior to this, India had initiated the auction of 20 blocks containing critical minerals in November and December, 2023. A significant step in this direction occurred even before on August 17, 2023, with the amendment of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act. The amendment identified 24 minerals as critical and strategic, granting the Central Government the authority to prioritize their auction.
Key States and Minerals
The prospective blocks lie in mineral-rich states such as Karnataka, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, and Madhya Pradesh. Specific minerals identified so far include cobalt in Karnataka, titanium, gallium and vanadium in Jharkhand, tungsten deposits in Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu, and vanadium reserves in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Bihar.
Assessing Economic Viability
Authorities emphasized these blocks would be auctioned only after conclusively establishing the quality, quantity and economic viability of mineral reserves through extensive exploration. This assessment would determine their suitability for commercial mining and revenue potential.
Strategic Importance of Critical Minerals
Critical minerals like lithium and cobalt are essential raw materials for electric mobility and battery manufacturing industry. Similarly, rare earths and titanium have immense applications in electronics, defense, and aerospace sectors where self-reliance is vital for the country. Hence, discovering and exploiting domestic critical mineral reserves will bolster strategic industries.
Regulations for Successful Auctions
Officials are also formulating appropriate royalty rates and regulations for critical minerals ahead of upcoming auctions to attract genuine bidders. Additionally, extensive prospecting is underway in mineral-rich districts of key states like Karnataka, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
Increasing Private Sector Involvement
The government wants more private companies to invest in mining. Identifying which areas have critical minerals makes mining there more attractive to private companies. However, private companies will only invest if mining policies and taxes stay predictable. Stable rules are key to fully involve the private sector in critical mineral mining.
Auctioning the rights to mine scarce minerals will help India rely less on imports for technology industries. It could even make India a global supplier of these high-tech minerals. However, transparency and environmental protection must remain priorities while mining these resources.
Category: Economy & Banking Current Affairs - 2024