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India Launches its First-Ever Critical Minerals Auction

India is launching its first-ever auction of tracts containing critical and strategic minerals as it looks to boost its renewable energy rollout and EV uptake and protect its national security.

The Indian Ministry of Mines said that it is auctioning 20 blocks of critical and strategic minerals across the country in a “landmark initiative that will boost our economy, enhance national security and support our transition to a clean energy future.”    

The auction process for the blocks containing lithium, graphite, nickel, molybdenum, and rare earth elements began on Wednesday.  

“The future global economy will be underpinned by technologies that depend on minerals such as lithium, graphite, cobalt, titanium and rare earth elements (REE). India has committed to achieve 50% of cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030,” the ministry noted. 

“Such ambitious plan for energy transition is set to drive the demand for electric cars, wind and solar energy projects and battery storage systems thereby increasing the demand for these critical minerals.”

The 20 blocks containing critical minerals are estimated to be worth $5.4 billion (450 billion Indian rupees), Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi said today.

The auction process is expected to conclude on February 20 next year.

India is not the only country in Asia looking to develop a supply chain for clean energy that could reduce dependence on China and use domestic resources for higher-valued products in the clean energy supply chain.

For example, Indonesia, the world’s biggest nickel miner, has been looking to develop nickel processing industries and ultimately produce batteries for EV manufacturers and is eager to attract foreign companies for those ventures.

Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, hopes to be producing 13 million electric motorcycles and 2.2 million electric cars by the end of the decade. Indonesia has a well-established metals and minerals industry, with huge nickel reserves. Nickel is a vital component of EV battery production and sourcing it locally can help cut manufacturing costs.   

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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