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June 24, 2024
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Vedanta, Tata group to scout for lithium mines in Zambia, Congo

In June, private sector companies like Vedanta Ltd, Tata, and battery tech startup Lohum are gearing up to explore lithium opportunities in Zambia and Congo, as per Mines Secretary VL Kantha Rao’s announcement on May 15.

Accompanied by ministry officials, executives from these firms will embark on this exploration venture to the South African countries. India’s intent is to bolster its access to crucial minerals such as lithium, aiming to narrow the gap with competitors like China in advancing next-generation energy supply chains.

Lithium, renowned for its lightweight and high reactivity, presents significant potential for energy storage, particularly in batteries used for electric vehicles and various industries.

Rao revealed Zambia’s request for India’s collaboration on a joint exploration project during an offshore mining workshop organized by the ministry.

Earlier discussions hinted at India’s interest in African mineral reserves, including cobalt, with potential opportunities also explored in Australia.

State-run entities like Coal India and NMDC are actively exploring lithium reserves in Chile and Australia. Furthermore, India seeks to collaborate with Chile on its copper assets.

Australia leads as the world’s largest lithium producer, followed by Chile, which holds the largest reserves of this crucial metal. Chile also tops the charts as the largest copper producer globally.

Rao’s meeting with the chairman of Chilean state-owned copper mining company, Codelco, in April emphasized exploring potential opportunities in lithium and copper blocks, alongside capacity-building initiatives.

Ongoing talks involve potential collaboration between Hindalco Industries, an Adani firm, and Codelco, as the ministry eyes expanding trade agreements with Chile on critical minerals.

The auction results for the first tranche of critical minerals are anticipated on June 15, paving the way for the auction of the fourth tranche comprising 20 blocks. These mineral blocks span states such as Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, and the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Critical minerals like lithium, titanium, copper, and molybdenum are indispensable to emerging technologies and serve diverse industrial purposes, from solar panels to energy storage batteries and turbines.

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