INC-WMC workshop: 90 critical mineral mines waiting to be auctioned, says Mines Secy

More than 90 mines of critical minerals are waiting to be auctioned, including nickel, rare earth, PGE, lithium, copper, said the Mines Secretary while addressing a workshop on critical minerals
Mines Secretary Vivek Bhardwaj addressing participants during a workshop on critical minerals in New Delhi on Monday
Mines Secretary Vivek Bhardwaj addressing participants during a workshop on critical minerals in New Delhi on MondayEnergy Watch

New Delhi: The Indian National Committee of the World Mining Congress organised a workshop on critical minerals on Monday where policymakers and industry stakeholders deliberated on the road ahead for India’s critical minerals industry. Addressing the stakeholders at the workshop, Mines Secretary Vivek Bhardwaj, who was the Chief Guest of the event, said, “India has just started. We have just started this year by coming out with a list of critical minerals. We are very proud and happy that we have changed the law in very fundamental ways.”

Recently, the Parliament approved amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, which empowered the Central government to auction mineral mines and added provisions for grant of a new mineral concession, namely, Exploration Licence for deep-seated and critical minerals. “I can assure you that we will certainly hold the auctions within this calendar year,” said Bhardwaj. He added that more than 90 mines of critical minerals are waiting to be auctioned, including nickel, rare earth, Platinum Group Elements (PGE), lithium, copper, among others.

“This year we have also decided that we will mine the seas — the exclusive economic zone of the country. But we do not have the technology. Like other countries have done over the years, we will also possibly dismantle something somewhere and put it together in India. But we will mine the oceans,” said the Mines Secretary.

Robust ecosystem for critical minerals vital for sel-reliance: M Nagaraju

Addressing the workshop, Additional Coal Secretary M Nagaraju underscored the significance of establishing a robust and self-sufficient mineral ecosystem for an Atmanirbhar Bharat. He stressed on the need to establish a National Institute or Centre of Excellence dedicated to critical minerals. “This visionary move will further propel our efforts in harnessing the potential of these essential resources,” said Nagaraju.

India in talks with 3 countries to acquire critical mineral assets: Farida Naik

Farida M Naik, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Mines, who moderated a technical session on critical minerals, said that India is currently in talks with three countries to acquire critical mineral assets abroad. “We are trying to acquire critical mineral assets abroad. We are in advanced stages of talking with Argentina, Chile and Australia. We are also going to come out with a policy framework on critical minerals very shortly.”

Other dignitaries present at the workshop included Chile’s Ambassador to India, HE Juan R Angulo M, Mongolia’s Ambassador to India HE Dambajav Ganbold, AK Jha, former Chairman of Coal India Limited and current Chairman of Jindal Power Limited and Coal India’s Director (Technical) Dr B Veera Reddy. Prominent speakers at the technical session included Debashish Nanda, Coal India’s Director (BD), Kumar Manish, President, BoB Cap M Ltd, Anjani Sri Mourya, Managing Director (MD), ALTMIN, Pradeep Singh, Director (Technical), Ministry of Mines, Rishabh Jain, Senior Programme Lead, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and Manish Dua, Senior Consultant, Benchmark Minerals. Anandji Prasad, Project Advisor, and Peeyush Kumar, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) for Clean Coal Technologies, at the Ministry of Coal proposed the vote of thanks at the end of the inaugural session and the technical session, respectively.

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