Focus on Critical Minerals
The Indian Mines Ministry is setting its sights on auctioning around 22 blocks of critical minerals that are currently in various stages of exploration. These blocks, spanning across nine states, are considered vital for numerous industrial applications, including electronics, lithium-ion battery manufacturing, paints, plastics, special alloys, and steel-making for military and defense.
Minerals and Locations Identified
The critical minerals identified for potential future auctions include cobalt, titanium, gallium, vanadium, tungsten, lithium, and rare earth elements (REEs). The exploration of these blocks is being undertaken by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and the Mineral Exploration and Consultancy in states such as Karnataka, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, and Madhya Pradesh.
Economic Feasibility and Exploration
Auctions of these blocks will proceed only after confirming their economic feasibility and quantifying the mineral reserves. Notable blocks include cobalt, iron, and manganese in Sanyasikoppa, Karnataka; cobalt, nickel, and chromium in Vadhakhol – Asoli, Maharashtra; and titanium, gallium, and vanadium in parts of Jharkhand. Additionally, tungsten resources have been identified in Nagpur, Maharashtra, Chinkipani in Chhattisgarh, and other locations.
First-time Identification of Vanadium Reserves
This initiative marks the first-time identification of vanadium reserves in India, particularly in Depo, Arunachal Pradesh; Boro Hundong, Assam; and other locations in Bihar. Tungsten or wolfram tungsten blocks, some reportedly containing lithium, have been finally reported in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh.
Royalty Rates and Auction Plans
The Mines Ministry is currently discussing royalty rates for the extraction of these minerals. Once approved by the Cabinet, the auctions can commence. This move is seen as a significant step in diversifying India’s mineral base and boosting its position in the global critical minerals market.