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India to invest in exploration of Lithium and Cobalt mines in Australia

  • Category
    Geography
  • Published
    5th Apr, 2022

Context

India's KABIL, a mining joint venture between state-run firms National Aluminium Co, Hindustan Copper Ltd and Mineral Exploration Corp Ltd, has signed a preliminary agreement with Australia's Critical Minerals Facilitation Office (CMFO).

  • The objective is to explore lithium and cobalt mines in Australia.

About

  • India has committed to jointly invest $6 million with the Australian government to explore lithium and cobalt mines in Australia over the next six months.
  • India is offering $2.4 billion of incentives for companies to build battery cells locally for electric vehicles. 
  • The agreement also provides for inclusion of any other Indian state-run firm as an investment partner, and envisages the due diligence process will be completed and further investment decisions taken over the next six months.

KABIL

  • The Mines Ministry has created a joint venture (JV) company — Khanij Bidesh India (KABIL) — with participating interest from National Aluminium Company (NALCO), Hindustan Copper (HCL) and Mineral Exploration Corporation (MECL).
  • The equity participation is 40:30:30, respectively.

About Cobalt

  • Cobalt is an essential trace element, and forms part of the active site of vitamin B12. 
  • Cobalt is a hard, brittle metal.
  • It is similar in appearance to iron and nickel. Cobalt has a magnetic permeability around 2/3 that of iron.
  • Cobalt is found as a mixture of two allotropes over a wide temperature range.

Cobalt in India

Occurrences of cobalt are reported from Singhbhum district, Jharkhand; Kendujhar and Jajpur districts, Odisha; Jhunjhunu district, Rajasthan; Tuensang district, Nagaland; and Jhabua and Hoshangabad districts, Madhya Pradesh.

About Lithium:

  • Lithium is a chemical element with symbol Li and atomic number 3.
  • It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal.
  • Under standard conditions, it is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element.
  • Lithium is highly reactive and flammable, and is stored in mineral oil.
  • It never occurs freely in nature, but only in (usually ionic) compounds, such as pegmatitic minerals, which were once the main source of lithium.
  • Due to its solubility as an ion, it is present in ocean water and is commonly obtained from brines.
  • Lithium metal is isolated electrolytically from a mixture of lithium chloride and potassium chloride.
  • Lithium is a key component used in Electric Vehicle batteries. And India, through its ? 18,100- crore PLI scheme is o?ering incentives for companies to build battery cells locally.
  • China and Hong Kong are the biggest lithium battery suppliers to India. 

Lithium Triangle:

  • Lithium Triangle is an intersection of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina, known for high quality salt flats.
  • Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, Salar de Atacama in Chile and Salar de Arizaro in Argentina contains over 45%of known global lithium reserves.
  • Beneath Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat lies the world’s greatest lithium deposits.
  • Bolivia, one of South America’s poorest countries, envisions development by harvesting lithium on an industrial scale from underground saltwater brines.
  • It can be mined from rock or processed from brine.
  • Lithium dissolved in underground saline aquifers called “brine”, pumped to surface by wells and then allowed to evaporate in vast knee-deep ponds.
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