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Everything About The Critical Minerals For India

On June 28, India unveiled a list of 30 critical minerals that have been identified as significantly important for the country’s economic development and security.  These minerals include  lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite, tin, and copper, which play a crucial role in various strategic value chains. They are integral to clean technologies such as zero-emission vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels. 

Critical minerals are essential in information and communication technologies, including semiconductors, as well as advanced manufacturing applications like defense, permanent magnets, and ceramics. The recognition of these minerals highlights the government’s commitment to securing the supply chain and promoting sustainable economic growth in line with the nation’s strategic goals.

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What are Critical Minerals? 

Critical Minerals
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Critical minerals are the minerals that are identified to hold significant importance due to the potential risk of supply shortage and their impact on the economy. They are considered important for the national economic development and security. The concentrated extraction and processing in limited geographical locations can create vulnerabilities in the supply chain. 

These minerals play a crucial role in advancing various sectors, including high-tech electronics, telecommunications, transport, and defense. Additionally, the critical minerals form part of multiple strategic value chains, including clean technologies like zero-emission vehicles, wind turbines, and solar panels, information and communication technologies such as semiconductors, as well as advanced manufacturing inputs and materials like defense applications, permanent magnets, and ceramics. 

Committee to Identify Critical Minerals

To address the challenges surrounding critical minerals, the Ministry of Mines took a proactive step in November 2022 by establishing a seven-member committee led by a joint secretary (Policy). The primary objective of this committee was to identify the minerals that are critical to India’s specific requirements. These minerals are crucial for fulfilling the country’s energy transition goals and net-zero commitments. Additionally, certain elements hold significant importance for progress in key sectors such as electronics, defense, and agriculture.

Critical Minerals
Reuters/Representational Image

Identification of Critical Minerals

The identification of critical minerals for India involved a rigorous three-stage assessment conducted by the committee. The first stage consisted of an analysis of critical mineral strategies of various countries, with the initial analysis of 69 identified minerals that were considered critical by major global economies, and a study of reports from organizations like CSEP and CEEW by the committee. 

In the second stage, an inter-ministerial consultation was conducted with different ministries, with an aim to identify minerals critical to their respective sectors. In the final stage, the committee developed an empirical formula for determining the criticality of minerals, taking into account the EU methodology that considers economic importance and supply risk as key factors. Based on this comprehensive assessment process, a total of 30 minerals were identified as the most critical for India. Among them, two minerals are critical as fertilizers.

The thirty critical minerals for India identified on the basis of their high supply risk, economic importance, or both, are: Antimony, Beryllium, Bismuth, Cobalt, Copper, Gallium, Germanium, Graphite, Hafnium, Indium, Lithium, Molybdenum, Niobium, Nickel, PGE (Platinum Group Elements), Phosphorus, Potash, Rare Earth Elements (REE), Rhenium, Silicon, Strontium, Tantalum, Tellurium, Tin, Titanium, Tungsten, Vanadium, Zirconium, Selenium, and Cadmium. 

What does the report say?

Critical Minerals
Reuters/Representational Image

These critical minerals were identified on the basis of a report titled ‘Critical Minerals for India’ prepared by a seven-member expert team which was constituted by the Ministry of Mines in November 2022. 

According to the report, the future global economy will heavily depend on minerals such as graphite, titanium, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth elements. Critical minerals are significant for a transition towards a low-carbon emissions economy and powering the renewable energy technologies required to meet the “Net Zero” commitments of countries worldwide.

In addition to identifying the list of critical minerals, the report puts forth several recommendations to enhance capacity building in the emerging sector of critical minerals. Inspired by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) which is known for its contributions to minerals research and development, the report suggests the establishment of a ‘National Institute’ or ‘Centre of Excellence on Critical Minerals.’ 

The CECM would focus on finding ways of discovering next-generation critical mineral deposits through geological knowledge, data analytics and modelling, and machine learning capability. Collaboration with other agencies for the strategic acquisition of foreign assets related to critical minerals is also recommended. 

The CECM would periodically update the critical minerals list for India, preferably every three years, and formulate the critical mineral strategy accordingly. To expedite the development of critical mineral mining, processing, manufacturing, and recycling in the country, the report calls for financial and administrative support from the central government.

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