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India Acquires Lithium Blocks in Argentina


Why is it in the news?

  • India secures five Lithium blocks in Argentina through an agreement with CAMYEN, a State-owned entity.
  • The Ministry of Mines, via Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL), plays a key role in the acquisition.
About KABIL

·       Formed in 2019 as a joint venture involving NALCO, HCL, and MECL.

·       Tasked with identifying, acquiring, exploring, developing, mining, and processing strategic minerals like lithium and cobalt abroad.

Significance of the Deal

  • The deal strengthens India’s lithium supplies and promotes the development of lithium mining and downstream sectors in both nations.
  • It aids in diversifying the critical materials’ supply chain, aligning with Global Net Zero goals.
  • Addresses the dependency on China for lithium, with 54% of India’s imports originating from China, which dominates 80% of global supply.
  • Aligns with the objectives of the Mineral Security Partnership (MSP), in which India is a participant.

 

About Lithium

·       It is a chemical element (Li) with atomic number 3, belonging to the alkali metal group.

·       Possesses reactive and flammable properties, requiring specialized storage conditions.

·       Main reserves are found in Chile, Australia, Argentina, Bolivia, and China.

·       Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile (Lithium Triangle) house 54% of the world’s lithium reserves.

·       In Argentina, lithium is present in salt pans in the Atacama Desert and neighbouring arid regions.

 

Lithium in India

·       Potential lithium recovery from brines in Sambhar and Pachpadra areas in Rajasthan and Rann of Kutch, Gujarat.

·       Geological Survey of India (GSI) identifies lithium resources in Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Mineral Security Partnership (MSP)

·       A US-led collaboration involving 14 countries focusing on mineral supply chains (Cobalt, Nickel, Lithium, and 17 ‘rare earth’ minerals).

·       Members include Australia, Canada, India, the US, and the EU.

·       Mandate involves catalysing public and private investment, diversifying and stabilizing global supply chains, promoting environmental and social standards, and increasing recycling of critical minerals.

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