In a significant stride towards ensuring a stable supply of critical minerals and reducing dependence on China, Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KABIL) has inked a historic agreement with Argentina’s state-owned enterprise, CATAMARCA MINERA Y ENERGÉTICA SOCIEDAD DEL ESTADO (CAMYEN SE). The deal, signed in the presence of dignitaries from both nations, signifies India’s first overseas lithium exploration and mining project.
KABIL, a joint venture between NALCO, HCL, and MECL, is leading India’s foray into lithium exploration abroad. The collaboration with CAMYEN SE grants KABIL exploration and exclusive rights for five lithium-rich blocks in Argentina’s Catamarca province, covering a vast area of 15,703 hectares.
The lithium exploration project, valued at approximately Rs 200 crore, focuses on five specific blocks—Cortadera-I, VI, VII, and VIII, along with Cateo-2022-01810132. KABIL plans to establish a branch office in Catamarca to oversee the project, marking a pivotal step in securing a resilient and diversified supply chain for critical minerals.
The signing ceremony, attended virtually by key Indian officials, including Union Minister Shri Pralhad Joshi, underscores the diplomatic significance of the agreement. It strengthens bilateral ties between India and Argentina while contributing to sustainable development in the mining sector.
The move aligns with India’s commitment to global net-zero goals and marks a crucial step in the country’s energy transition. Lithium, a key component in batteries for electric vehicles and electronic devices, plays a pivotal role in achieving sustainable and clean energy objectives.
Breaking China’s Stranglehold
India’s initiative to explore lithium abroad is a strategic response to reduce dependence on China, which currently supplies over half of India’s lithium imports. The agreement with Argentina diversifies the supply chain, aligning with India’s efforts to strengthen its position in the critical minerals market.
KABIL, established in 2019, is a collaboration between National Aluminium Company Ltd. (NALCO), Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL), and Mineral Exploration & Consultancy Limited (MECL). The government-backed initiative, under the Ministry of Mines, aims to secure a stable supply of critical minerals like lithium and cobalt from international sources.
KABIL, formed on August 8, 2019, operates under the Companies Act 2013. The three partners, NALCO, HCL, and MECL, contribute in a ratio of 40:30:30, respectively. This strategic alliance is dedicated to ensuring the nation’s mineral security.
KABIL’s primary role is to identify, explore, acquire, and develop strategic minerals outside India, particularly those not abundantly available within the country. The goal is to support domestic needs and promote the “Make in India” initiative.
NALCO is a major aluminum producer in Asia, HCL stands as India’s sole vertically integrated copper producer, and MECL is a leading mineral exploration agency in India. They employ around 7,800 full-time experts in geology, exploration, mining, mineral processing, metallurgy, and other core engineering sectors.
The combined market capital of the promoters is approximately US $3 billion, with an authorized capital of $37 million.
KABIL is actively engaged in identifying and sourcing battery minerals like lithium and cobalt. The company is in negotiations with various source countries to acquire overseas mineral assets, ensuring a steady supply for the growing demand in India.
KABIL’s mission is to identify, explore, acquire, and develop strategic minerals outside India. This Argentina venture is a significant milestone for the joint venture, marking its entry into overseas lithium exploration and setting a precedent for future collaborations.
India’s foray into lithium exploration in Argentina through KABIL’s groundbreaking agreement with CAMYEN SE is a testament to the nation’s commitment to resource security and sustainable energy practices. The venture not only strengthens diplomatic ties but also positions India as a key player in the global lithium market, contributing to a resilient and diversified supply chain for critical minerals. This strategic move is pivotal in achieving India’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ vision and promoting a sustainable and cleaner energy future.
Disclaimer: This blog has been written exclusively for educational purposes. The securities mentioned are only examples and not recommendations. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet and is subject to changes. Please consult an expert before making related decisions.