20 Blocks Of Critical Minerals, Worth Rs 45,000 Crore, Put Up For Auction

20 Blocks Of Critical Minerals, Worth Rs 45,000 Crore, Put Up For Auction

The blocks are located in seven states and the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. (Representational)

New Delhi:

In a bid to address potential supply chain vulnerabilities for materials like lithium, cobalt and titanium, the Centre launched the first tranche of the Critical and Strategic Minerals Auction on Wednesday. A total of 20 blocks have been put up for auction and their combined value is estimated to be Rs 45,000 crore, Union Minister of Mines Pralhad Joshi said. 

The 20 blocks are located in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Chattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir, and composite licences will be issued for 16 of them, while mining licences will be given for the remaining four. Exploration is allowed under composite licences.

The bidder will be selected based on the highest percentage of royalty rates quoted by them. Sale of tender documents will begin on Wednesday itself, and Mr Joshi encouraged prospective bidders to apply.

The Mines And Minerals (Development And Regulation) Act was amended in August and 24 minerals were notified as Critical and Strategic minerals. 

The auction is important because the minerals are essential for the country’s economic development and national security. Lithium is a core component in lithium-ion batteries that form the backbone of not just mobile communication but also electric vehicles, which are touted as the future of transportation. Batteries will also play a role in the wide adoption of solar power to store the electricity produced for use when the sun isn’t shining. 

India has committed to achieving 50% of cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil sources by 2030 and lithium and other such minerals will have a key role to play in making that a reality. 

Cobalt also has application in storage, and titanium is widely used in the defence industry. 

Officials said the the lack of availability of these minerals or concentration of their extraction or processing in a few countries may lead to supply chain vulnerabilities. Future technologies will also depend on lithium, graphite, cobalt, titanium and other rare earth elements. 

The other key industries that depend on these minerals include agriculture and pharmaceutical production.

“We have identified a total of 100 blocks for auction. Of these, 20 are being offered in the first tranche and the auction for the others will take place in due course,” said Mr Joshi.

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