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India Looks to Buy Lithium and Copper Assets in Top Producer Chile

To boost its energy transition efforts, India is betting on acquiring lithium and copper assets overseas and is sending a delegation to search for such resources in Chile, a top producer of both critical minerals, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing a source at the Indian government.

“We are interested in buying assets. We are trying to facilitate private and government-owned companies to acquire assets in other countries as well,” the anonymous source told Reuters.  

Chile is the world’s biggest copper producer and the second-largest producer of lithium, and India is now keen to explore procuring resources from assets in Chile.

India has already signed an agreement with Chile’s neighbor Argentina, also a large lithium producer. Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia have large resources in the so-called Lithium Triangle—a lithium-rich region of the Andes, encompassed by the borders of the three South American countries.

Earlier this year, India signed an agreement with the state-owned enterprise of the Catamarca province in Argentina for a lithium exploration and mining project in the province. 

The government-created company that signed the agreement in Argentina, Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL), is a joint venture of three state-held enterprises—National Aluminium Company Ltd. (NALCO), Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL), and Mineral Exploration & Consultancy Limited (MECL).

Under the supervision of India’s Ministry of Mines, KABIL has the task “to ensure supply side assurance of critical and strategic minerals and mineral security of the nation.”

KABIL is mandated to identify, explore, acquire, develop, mine, process, and procure strategic minerals outside India for supply primarily to India, to meet domestic requirements for battery metals, including lithium and cobalt.

So KABIL plans to send next month a delegation to scour for assets in Chile, according to the source who has spoken to Reuters.

The Indian firm is also in discussions with the government of another major lithium producer, Australia, for a potential acquisition of a lithium mining asset there, the source added.


By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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