India takes bold steps to secure critical minerals

01 Dec 2023

On November 1, 2022, the Ministry of Mines established a Committee tasked with identifying critical and strategic minerals. Among its recommendations was the creation of a National Institute or "Centre of Excellence on Critical Minerals" (CECM). The CECM's objective is to regularly update India's list of critical minerals, preferably every three years, and periodically announce the critical mineral strategy. The Committee identified 30 minerals as critical, with 24 included in Part D of Schedule 1 of the MMDR Act as critical and strategic minerals.

To ensure a steady supply of critical and strategic minerals to the Indian domestic market, a joint venture company named Khanij Bidesh India (KABIL) was formed. This venture received equity contributions from three Central Public Sector Enterprises: National Aluminium Company Ltd, Hindustan Copper, and Mineral Exploration and Consultancy KABIL, based on commissioned studies and selection criteria, has initiated engagement with state-owned organisations in shortlisted source countries, facilitated by the Ministry of External Affairs and Indian Embassies in countries like Argentina and Australia, aiming to acquire overseas mineral assets.

The Central Government, through the MMDR Amendment Act, 2023, amended the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act, 1957, inserting 24 critical and strategic minerals into Part D of Schedule-I. These minerals are officially recognised as critical and strategic for the country. The amended Act also empowers the Central Government to auction critical and strategic mineral blocks. The first tranche of auction for 20 blocks took place on November 29, 2023, with details provided in the Annexure.

Furthermore, as part of its 'Science and Technology Programme,' the Ministry of Mines offers grants under S&T-PRISM for the Promotion of Research and Innovation in Start-ups and MSMEs in the Mining, Mineral Processing, Metallurgy, and Recycling Sector. One of the key focus areas under S&T-PRISM is the extraction of strategic and critical minerals at the elemental level.

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