India changes rules to allow private players to mine lithium

India changes rules to allow private players to mine lithium



The country’s mining regulations were changed by the Lok Sabha on Friday, allowing private businesses to extract lithium, a crucial raw ingredient needed to create battery cells.

The removal of “lithium-bearing minerals” and five other atomic minerals from a restricted list is one of the major revisions included in the Bill, opening the market to private miners. Only state-run organizations were permitted to harvest and explore these minerals because they were on the list of atomic minerals.

These minerals are essential to India’s ambition to achieve net-zero emissions since they are used in a variety of industries, including the space industry, electronics, communications, the energy sector, and electric batteries.

“Upon removal of these minerals from the said list, exploration and mining of these minerals will be opened up for the private sector as well. As a result, exploration and mining of these minerals is expected to increase significantly in the country,” the amendment says.

The new measure states that additional reforms are needed in the mineral industry, notably to increase the exploration and mining of vital minerals that are crucial to the nation’s economic growth and national security.

It also notes that the future of the global economy will be supported by technologies that rely on minerals like lithium, graphite, cobalt, titanium, and rare earth elements. These technologies are dependent on the availability of critical minerals, or the concentration of their extraction or processing in a small number of geographical locations, which may result in supply chain vulnerabilities and even disruption of supplies.

According to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023, an exploration license obtained through an auction should allow the holder to conduct reconnaissance and prospecting operations in search of important and deep-seated minerals. The blocks that the exploration license holder has explored would be put up for auction for mining leases within the allotted time frame, bringing in more money for the state governments.

Since it is more difficult and expensive to search and mine deep-seated minerals than surface or bulk minerals, such as gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, nickel, cobalt, platinum group minerals, diamonds, etc., their current contribution to global mineral output is minimal. India relies heavily on the importation of these minerals.

According to data compiled by ICRA, China leads the world in the processing of rare earth metals, processing 58% of the world’s lithium, 35% of the world’s cobalt, and 40% of the world’s copper used in the production of battery cells.

According to the amendment, the proposed exploration license will facilitate, encourage, and reward private sector involvement in all areas of mineral exploration for important and deeply buried minerals.

The modification was made five months after 5.9 million tonnes (MT) of lithium deposits were found in Jammu & Kashmir’s Reasi district (J&K). The G3 category of lithium was discovered by the Geological Survey of India, indicating that additional investigation and analysis are needed to attain the ultimate “confident G1 or G2” category of “mineable deposits.”


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Content Credit: FORTUNE INDIA