India has put up 20 blocks of crucial and strategic minerals, including lithium reserves identified in Jammu and Kashmir earlier this year, for sale in the first ever auction of such critical resources.
Union minister of coal and mines Pralhad Joshi said the “auction puts India on a journey to redefine its industrial growth and reinforce the commitment to sustainable development.”
“We have identified a total of 100 blocks for auction. Of these, 20 are being offered in the first tranche, and the auction for the others will take place in due course,” Joshi said.
“The critical minerals auction is a win-win for the mining sector and fuels our vision of Aatma-Nirbhar-Bharat (self-sufficient India). It will not only help in creating jobs and generating revenue but also strengthen our strategic partnerships with our allies and trading partners,” he added.
The 100 blocks of minerals, which are spread across Gujarat, Jharkhand, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh, and the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, will be bid out in phases. Joshi said 16 mineral blocks are put up for grant of composite licence and four blocks for mining lease.
“Minerals worth $5.40 billion are being auctioned in this round. Two lithium blocks have been offered. Once operational, they will help cut down imports,” he added.
India has also taken up 125 projects to explore critical minerals in the country, mining secretary V.L. Kantha Rao said at the bid event.
India’s Union cabinet, the executive decision-making body of the government, had earlier approved the commercial mining of lithium, beryllium, titanium, niobium, tantalum, and zirconium.
In recent years, India has introduced reforms to open the mining sector to private investments, especially in exploration. Several accredited private exploration firms have already been engaged to expedite exploration activities.
Last month, the government approved royalty rates of 3% for lithium and niobium and 1% for rare earth elements (REEs).
Most of the country’s lithium needs is met by imports from Chile, Russia, and China, while beryllium is mostly imported from Russia, the Netherlands, and UK.
The Geological Survey of India announced the discovery of significant reserves of lithium in February this year.
India earlier this month also identified a preliminary list of 30 critical minerals that it considers essential for economic development and national security.
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