India, Australia Collaborate for Lithium and Cobalt Prospects

Highlights :

  • A MoU is signed between Khanij Bidesh India Limited and Critical Minerals Facilitation Office (CMFO) to explore cobalt and lithium mines in Australia.
  • The two state run companies will jointly investing $6 million in the explorations.

India and Australia will be jointly investing $6 million to explore cobalt and lithium mines in the continent sized country over the next six months. The two countries have signed an agreement for the exploration of the critical minerals as Australia is home to some of the largest reserves of lithium, cobalt and vanadium. The move comes even as both countries, members of the QUAD grouping including the US and Japan too, seek to explore options beyond China for sourcing of critical raw materials.

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A preliminary agreement has been inked between Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL) of India and Critical Minerals Facilitation Office (CMFO) of Australia for the explorations. The agreement is also being looked upon as a means to reduce dependence on China for the rare earth based products like lithium-ion batteries and find stability in the Indo-Pacific.

Both the government run companies will jointly conduct due diligence of some brownfield and greenfield projects. This is necessary to recognise cobalt and lithium mineral assets after which final joint investment and acquisition decisions will be taken by the two countries. The due diligence process will be completed in six months and as per the agreement, other Indian government companies may also join the explorations as investment partners.

India’s Foreign Secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla had tendered some preliminary information about a week ago about the agreement when he said, “A MoU was signed on cooperation in the critical mining sector which was signed by Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. (KABIL) and Australia’s Critical Minerals Facilitation Office. This is an important area for both our countries and this agreement will give us the opportunities to both invest in Australia’s critical minerals sector and get Australian expertise in this area.”

India is also reaching out to other regions of the world like Chile, Argentina and Bolivia in Latin America that have high concentration of rare earth minerals for possible explorations. Lithium inalienable for electric vehicles’ batteries and the Indian government is already carrying out a $2.4 billion worth production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for EV players to manufacture battery cells within the country for EVs.

KABIL has already signed an agreement with Argentina firm to jointly prospect lithium and cobalt in the South American country.

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