India’s ministry of mines has signed an agreement with Argentinean authorities under which Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL) and the state-owned enterprise of Catamarca province of Argentina will jointly undertake exploration and mining of lithium in that country.
Khanij Bidesh and Catamarca Minera Y Energetica Sociedad del Estado (Camyen SE) at Catamarca signed the agreement on Monday, in the presence of local government officials and India’s ambassador to Argentina.
The signing ceremony was virtually attended by union minister of parliamentary affairs, coal and mines Pralhad Joshi and secretary, ministry of mines, V L Kantha Rao.
This is the first overseas lithium exploration and mining project by a state-owned company of India.
“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,” Pralhad Joshi said.
KABIL will start exploration and development of five lithium brine blocks, viz, Cortadera-I, Cortadera-VII, Cortadera-VIII, Cateo-2022-01810132 and Cortadera-VI covering an area of about 15,703 hectare, located in the Catamarca province of Argentina. KABIL will also set up a branch office at Catamarca, Argentina. The project cost is about Rs200 crore.
The agreement gives KABIL exclusive rights to explore, evaluate, prospect and start commercial production subsequent to existence/discovery of lithium mineral,
This will not only boost KABIL’s 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, says a mines ministry release.
Argentina is part of the “Lithium Triangle” along with Chile and Bolivia with more than half of world’s total lithium resources. It also has the second largest lithium resources, third largest lithium reserves and fourth largest production in the 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, the release adds.
Incorporated 1n August 2019, Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL) is a joint venture of three state enterprises – National Aluminium Company Ltd, Hindustan Copper Limited and Mineral Exploration and Consultancy Limited (MECL), owing 40:30:30 per cent stakes, respectively. KABIL’s mandate is to ensure supply side assurance of critical and strategic minerals and mineral security of the nation. KABIL will identify, explore, acquire, develop, mine, process and procure strategic minerals outside India for supplying primarily to India, to meet domestic requirements.
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