‘India to send teams to Chile seeking lithium and copper assets’

NEW DELHI: In response to growing demand for critical minerals driven by India’s rapid economic growth and efforts to accelerate the energy transition, a government source revealed plans for India to dispatch two delegations to Chile next month. These delegations aim to scout for lithium and copper resources, reflecting New Delhi’s strategic focus on securing vital minerals for its developmental objectives.
Chile emerges as a primary target due to its status as the largest global supplier of copper and the second-largest producer of lithium. These minerals play a vital role in powering electric vehicle batteries and renewable energy systems, aligning with the global shift away from fossil fuels.
In India’s pursuit of overseas mineral assets exploration, state-owned enterprises National Aluminium Company, Hindustan Copper, and the unlisted Mineral Exploration and Consultancy have collaborated to establish a company named Khanij Bidesh India (KABIL).
“KABIL has to send a delegation to Chile in April,” said the source, who did not wish to be named as details of the plan have not been made public.
“We are interested in buying assets. We are trying to facilitate private and government-owned companies to acquire assets in other countries as well.”
A delegation is being dispatched by the government to specifically seek out copper assets, according to the source. Despite Reuters’ attempts to reach out for comments, both the federal Ministry of Mines and KABIL remained unresponsive to emails.
India, ranking as the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the United States, has committed to attaining a net-zero carbon emission goal by 2070. Additionally, it aims to elevate the proportion of renewables in its energy composition to 50% by 2030.
In January, KABIL finalized a lithium exploration agreement worth 2 billion rupees ($24.01 million) for five blocks in Argentina. This deal, inked with an Argentinian state-owned enterprise, grants KABIL rights for exploration, development, and eventual commercial production.
KABIL, currently establishing an office in Argentina, is engaged in discussions with another company in the Latin American nation for lithium exploration, as per the source. Simultaneously, talks are underway with the Australian government to enlist a consultant, facilitating due diligence for a potential lithium block acquisition in the country.
Furthermore, India is exploring opportunities in Africa for copper, cobalt, and other critical minerals, according to V L Kantha Rao, the highest-ranking official at the Ministry of Mines. India is also progressing with the auctioning of 38 critical and strategic mineral blocks, which includes lithium.

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