Committee Report on Critical Minerals
The Ministry of Mines in India formed a committee on November 1, 2022, to identify critical and strategic minerals. The committee’s report identified 30 minerals, including copper, as critical and strategic, given their economic importance and India’s future energy transition requirements.
E-Auction of Mineral Blocks
The Central Government launched the first tranche of e-auction for 20 blocks of critical and strategic minerals on November 29, 2023. These blocks include Copper, Lithium, Rare Earth Elements (REEs), Platinum Group of Minerals, Nickel, and Potash.
Challenges in Mining Deep-Seated Minerals
Exploring and mining deep-seated minerals like Copper, Gold, Silver, Cobalt, Lithium, and Nickel pose significant challenges compared to surface or bulk minerals. India has traditionally imported copper ore and concentrate due to limited domestic reserves.
Increased Copper Demand and Imports
Recent spikes in copper imports are attributed to increased demand in copper refining, reflecting post-pandemic recovery in sectors such as infrastructure, construction, telecom, electrical, renewable energy, and electric vehicles.
New Mineral Concession and Exploration License
The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2023, introduced a new exploration license for 29 deep-seated and critical minerals, including copper. This license permits reconnaissance and prospecting operations, encouraging private sector participation to bring advanced technology and expertise in mineral exploration.
Funding for Private Exploration Agencies
Private exploration agencies without a prospecting license are now eligible for funding under the National Mineral Exploration Trust, facilitating greater domestic mineral availability and reducing import dependency.