April 20, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

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INDIA’s INTEREST IN AFRICAN MINERALS AND OFFSHORE BLOCKS AUCTION

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TAG: GS 1: GEOGRAPHY, GS 3: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT

THE CONTEXT: India is actively seeking critical minerals, including cobalt, from African countries such as Zambia, Namibia, Congo, Ghana, and Mozambique.

EXPLANATION:

  • These minerals, such as lithium and cobalt, are essential for various industries, particularly technology and manufacturing sectors.
  • While India looks towards Africa for cobalt and other critical minerals, it continues to engage with Australia for lithium blocks.
  • This dual approach reflects India’s strategy to diversify its sources of critical minerals and secure a stable supply chain.
  • Ten offshore blocks are slated to be put on sale, with the auction scheduled to take place after the elections.
  • This indicates a proactive approach by the Indian government to tap into offshore mineral resources.
  • The result of the first round of auction for critical minerals will be announced within ten days.
  • Additionally, the lithium block in Jammu and Kashmir, which received only two bids in the first round, will be auctioned in the third tranche.
  • This demonstrates the government’s commitment to optimizing the auction process and maximizing participation.
  • The government recently launched the third tranche of auction for critical and strategic minerals, with seven blocks up for sale.
  • These blocks are being auctioned under specific rules outlined in the Mineral (Auction) Rules 2015, indicating regulatory clarity and transparency in the auction process.
  • So far, the Indian government has initiated the auction of 38 critical and strategic mineral blocks, reflecting its determination to harness domestic and international mineral resources effectively.
  • This underscores India’s strategic focus on securing a sustainable supply of essential minerals to fuel its economic growth and industrial development.

Critical Minerals:

  • Critical minerals are those minerals that are essential for economic development and national security, the lack of availability of these minerals or concentration of extraction or processing in a few geographical locations may lead to supply chain vulnerabilities and even disruption of supplies.
  • Rare earth elements and other critical minerals, found abundantly in Africa, have drawn widespread attention amid calls issued by multilateral bodies, including the United Nations and its affiliates, to switch to emission-free sources of energy.
  • Reducing the carbon footprint is seen as essential to slow down the pace of global warming.

The following critical minerals are in focus to build a decarbonised energy infrastructure:

  • Rare earth elements: They are used in offshore wind turbine generators and electric vehicle motors.
  • Lithium, cobalt, and high-purity nickel: They are used in energy storage technologies.
  • Platinum group metals: They are used in catalysts for automotive, chemical, fuel cell, and green hydrogen products.
  • Gallium and germanium: They are used in developing semiconductors.

Some of the most critical minerals found in Africa include:

  • Cobalt: The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the world’s leading producer of cobalt, which is a key component of lithium-ion batteries.
  • Lithium: Lithium is used in electric vehicle batteries and is becoming increasingly in demand. Africa has significant lithium reserves in countries like Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Mali.
  • Copper: Copper is a vital mineral for electrical wiring and is also used in renewable energy technologies. Africa has large copper reserves in countries like Zambia, the DRC, and South Africa.
  • Graphite: Graphite is used in lithium-ion batteries and is also a key component of solar panels. Africa has significant graphite reserves in countries like Mozambique, Madagascar, and Tanzania.
  • Rare earth elements: Rare earth elements are used in a wide variety of products, including electric vehicles, wind turbines, and consumer electronics. Africa has significant rare earth element reserves in countries like Burundi, Madagascar, and South Africa.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE REFER TO THE CA MONTHLY MAGAZINE OF MARCH.

SOURCE: https://indianexpress.com/article/business/india-looking-to-africa-for-critical-minerals-mines-secretary-vl-kantha-rao-9228304/

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