India Nears Agreement on Lithium Blocks in Argentina Through State-Owned Joint Venture

India Nears Agreement on Lithium Blocks in Argentina Through State-Owned Joint Venture

India is on the verge of finalizing agreements for the acquisition of five lithium blocks in Argentina, with the signing expected in the coming days. These agreements will be executed through KABIL, a state-owned joint venture established for the purpose of securing strategic minerals abroad.

KABIL is a collaboration between the National Aluminium Company (NALCO), Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd. (MECL), and Hindustan Copper Ltd. (HCL), with a focus on identifying, acquiring, developing, and processing crucial minerals for India’s domestic use.

India, one of the world’s major greenhouse gas emitters, has been actively pursuing international partnerships to secure essential minerals from resource-rich nations like Australia, Argentina, and Chile.

The official from the Mines Ministry, well-versed in the matter, revealed that substantial groundwork has been completed, and the final stages of the agreements are underway.

Regarding the pact with Argentina, the official stated, “KABIL is close to making acquisitions in Argentina and will shortly sign an agreement to secure a few lithium blocks, most probably five or so. Maybe another month or so before the details are locked in.”

Argentina has reportedly given in-principle approval for allocating lithium blocks for exploration to India, with lease details currently under development. Potential procurement methods include direct acquisition, long-term revenue sharing, or partnership agreements.

Argentina, along with Chile and Bolivia, forms the renowned “Lithium Triangle” and is presently the world’s fourth-largest lithium producer, boasting the third-largest lithium reserve.

India presently imports major components required for lithium-ion cell manufacturing. The country’s import bill for lithium-ion in FY23 amounted to ₹23,171 crore, compared to ₹13,673.15 crore in FY22.

The Ministry officials affirmed that KABIL will continue to lead such international agreements, including negotiations with foreign governments. Beyond Argentina, KABIL is exploring collaboration and acquisition opportunities for lithium in other Latin American nations such as Chile and Brazil. The venture remains open to various partnership structures, long-term lease agreements for mines or lithium blocks, or direct investments in mining activities.

In Australia, KABIL has reportedly entered into Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) for the exploration of two lithium blocks and three cobalt blocks. “Lithium, copper, and cobalt are among some of the key minerals that are being tapped at the moment,” another official noted.

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