New Delhi: India has signed an agreement with Argentina on Monday for an exploration and mining project in the country which is one of the Lithium triangle members. "Ministry of Mines, Government of India has achieved a significant milestone with the signing of an agreement between Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL) and the state-owned enterprise of Catamarca province of Argentina CATAMARCA MINERA Y ENERGÉTICA SOCIEDAD DEL ESTADO (CAMYEN SE) at Catamarca, Argentina today i.e., on 15th January, 2024," said the Ministry of Mines in an official statement.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Mines Pralhad Joshi said, “This is a historic day for both India and Argentina as we are scripting a new chapter in bilateral ties with the Agreement signing between KABIL and CAMYEN – a step which will not only play a crucial role in driving the energy transition for sustainable future, but also ensure a resilient and diversified supply chain for critical and strategic minerals essential for various industries in India.”
This is the first-ever Lithium exploration and mining project by a government company of India. KABIL will start exploration and development of 5 lithium brine blocks viz 1. Cortadera-I, 2. Cortadera-VII, 3. Cortadera-VIII, 4. Cateo-2022-01810132 and 5. Cortadera-VI covering an area of about 15,703 Hectare, located in the Catamarca province of Argentina. KABIL is also preparing to set up a branch office at Catamarca, Argentina. The project cost is about Rs 200 crores.
With this Agreement, KABIL has obtained exploration and exclusivity right for 5 blocks to evaluate, prospect and explore and subsequent to existence/discovery of lithium mineral, exploitation right for commercial production. "This will not only boost its quest for sourcing Lithium for India but will also help in bringing in technical and operational experience for Brine-type lithium exploration, exploitation and extraction," said the Mines Ministry.
Argentina is the part of “Lithium Triangle,” along with Chile and Bolivia, with more than half of world’s total lithium resources and having the distinction of having the 2nd-largest lithium resources, 3rd-largest lithium reserves and 4th-largest production in world.
"This strategic move not only strengthens the bilateral ties between India and Argentina but also contributes to the sustainable development of the mining sector, ensuring a resilient and diversified supply chain for critical and strategic minerals essential for various industries," said the government.
The agreement was signed in presence of Governor of Catamarca Lic. Raul Jalil, Vice Governor of Catamarca, Eng. Ruben Dusso and Minister of Mines Catamarca, H. E. Marcelo Murua and Ambassador of India to Argentina, H. E. Dinesh Bhatia. The signing ceremony was virtually attended by Joshi and Mines Secretary VL Kantha Rao.