Critical Minerals of India
2023 JUL 5
Geography > Resource geography > Resource geography
- In a strategic move, the Centre has identified 30 critical minerals, including lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite, tin and copper, which are essential for the country’s economic development and national security.
- Critical minerals are those minerals which are essential for economic development and national security, the lack of availability of these minerals or even concentration of existence, extraction or processing of these minerals in few geographical locations may lead to supply chain vulnerability and disruption.
- The Ministry of Mines constituted a seven-member Committee to identify the list of minerals critical to our country.
- The critical minerals identification process tries to address five core objectives:
- Based on a three-stage assessment process and considering important parameters such as reserve position, production, import dependency, use for future technology/clean energy and requirement of fertilizer minerals in an agrarian economy, the Committee has identified a set of 30 critical minerals.
- These are Antimony, Beryllium, Bismuth, Cobalt, Copper, Gallium, Germanium, Graphite, Hafnium, Indium, Lithium, Molybdenum, Niobium, Nickel, PGE, Phosphorous, Potash, Rare Earth Elements, Rhenium, Silicon, Strontium, Tantalum, Tellurium, Tin, Titanium, Tungsten, Vanadium, Zirconium, Selenium and Cadmium.
SIGNIFICANCE OF CRITICAL MINERALS:
- Economic development:
- The future global economy will be underpinned by technologies that depend on minerals such as lithium, graphite, cobalt, titanium, and rare earth elements. These minerals are essential for the advancement of many sectors, including high-tech electronics, telecommunications, transport, and defence.
- National security:
- The lack of availability of these minerals or concentration of extraction or processing in a few geographical locations outside India can lead to supply chain vulnerabilities. Identifying and developing value chains for the minerals can reduce India’s dependence on import and promote mineral and energy security.
- Geostrategic significance:
- Covid pandemic exposed the limitations of global supply chain and countries are increasingly diversifying their supply chain through measures like the China+1 strategy. Having a credible source of critical mineral reserves can help India benefit from this diversification.
- Eg: If the perceived size of the Lithium reserves in J&K is borne out by further exploration, India could jump ahead of China in the global Li supply chain.
- Support transition to net-zero carbon energy systems:
- They are vital to power the global transition to a low carbon emissions economy, and the renewable energy technologies that will be required to meet the ‘Net Zero’ commitments.
- Critical minerals are vital to advance the government’s ambitious plan of 30% EV penetration in private cars, 70% for commercial vehicles, and 80% for two and three-wheelers by 2030 for the automobile industry. They will strengthen India’s National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Storage as well.
- For the critical mineral strategy to be successful, India needs to develop the entire value chain from exploration to recycling. The development of the entire value chain for critical minerals, in essence, implies building capacity at each stage of the value chain namely geoscience and exploration; mineral extraction; intermediate processing; advanced manufacturing and, recycling.
- There is also a need for establishing a National Institute or Centre of Excellence on critical minerals on the lines of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).
- A wing in the Ministry of Mines can be established as a Centre of Excellence for Critical Minerals (CECM). The Centre of Excellence for Critical Minerals will focus on identifying more efficient ways for discovering next generation critical mineral deposits through geological knowledge, data analytics and modelling, and machine learning capability.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation: (CSIRO):
- CSIRO is an Australian Government corporate entity and one of the world’s largest mission-driven multidisciplinary science and research organizations.
- It has a wider canvass as it is working with the Government, Universities, Industry and the Community on challenges like Food Security and Quality, Health and well-being, Resilient and Valuable Environments etc.
- But it is also the largest minerals research and development organisation in Australia and one of the largest in the world.
Q. What are critical minerals. Analyse the significance of developing value chains for critical minerals to India.