New Delhi,
The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) organised a National Dialogue on ‘Critical Mineral Resources for India’s Manufacturing Needs’ in New Delhi today. Shri Balvinder Kumar, Secretary Mines delivered the keynote address and released a DST report ‘Critical Non-Fuel Mineral Resources for India’s Manufacturing Sector: A Vision for 2030’, during the dialogue. Over the past year, Government of India has made significant efforts to accelerate the growth of the mining industry through speedy clearances, transparent auctions and creating an exploration fund. A diverse set of mineral resources (especially non-fuel minerals) is essential raw material to power the growth of the manufacturing sector in the years ahead and is likely to be a significant determinant of the success of the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The dialogue focused on the recommendations of the study and would outline an action plan that identifies critical mineral resources for India and ways to reduce the associated supply risks.

In his address Balvinder Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Mines, said, “I congratulate the CEEW team for publishing this study identifying critical minerals for India. India is endowed with vast mineral resources and has large untapped potential. Since March 2015, we have introduced several key reforms including allocating mines through fair and transparent auctions, allocating mines for 50 years instead of 30 years, setting up District Mineral Foundations for socio economic development of the mining affected people across the country, and setting up the National Mineral Exploration Trust NMET for thrust on exploration. This study from CEEW will be extremely useful for framing policies that deal with national security and high-tech manufacturing.” The Mines Ministry has already notified the Atomic Minerals Concession Rules, 2016 and is working to bring out the Exclusive Economic Zone Offshore Concession Rules, he said.

Twelve critical minerals could play an important role in the success of the Make in India programme and the sustainable growth of the Indian economy, according to the study conducted by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), a leading policy research organisation. The study, supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, provides a first-of-its-kind framework for India to assess the impact of critical minerals on the manufacturing sector, considering both economic importance and associated supply risks.

The critical minerals including beryllium, germanium, rare earths (heavy and light), rhenium, tantalum, etc. find specialised use in a range of industries and modern applications, such as aerospace, automobiles, cameras, defense, entertainment systems, laptops, medical imaging, nuclear energy, and smartphones. These critical minerals would also play a role in nurturing the domestic manufacturing capacity to support the government’s low-carbon plans, such as the 100GW solar target, faster adoption and manufacturing of hybrid and electric vehicles, and the national domestic efficient lighting programme.

Over the coming years, India will need to strategically develop joint partnerships with existing global players to secure assured supply of critical minerals.

Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST in his message on the occasion said, “The study, supported and catalysed by the National Science and Technology Management Information System (NSTMIS) division of DST, identifies 12 critical minerals from a total of 49 non-fuel minerals estimated to find use in Indian manufacturing in 2030. This study will open new vistas for R&D and collaborations for securing assured supplies of critical minerals. Further, the study will assist policymakers and captains of industry to draw up plans to secure India’s needs of identified critical minerals in pursuit of sustainable industrial growth.”

The CEEW study comes on the heels of the National Mineral Exploration Policy, 2016 (NMEP) unveiled earlier this month, which focuses on prioritisation of regional and detailed exploration critical minerals of importance to industry and national security.

NMEP 2016 also includes a proposal to establish the autonomous NCMT to address mineral exploration challenges in the country through collaborative research and capacity building programmes. The mining sector currently contributes 2.4% to India’s GDP and the new Minister of Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal, aims to increase its contribution to GDP by another 1% in the next 2-3 years.

Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW, said, “To meet our economic and developmental goals, India will need to first focus on domestic exploration of critical minerals. We would also need to secure our critical mineral resources through strategic acquisition of overseas mines and signing diplomatic and trade agreements, promoting research and development to find better substitutes for priority minerals, and promoting scale and innovation in the recycling and material recovery sector.”

Shri Vaibhav Gupta, Programme Lead, CEEW and lead author of the report, said, “India is 100% import dependent for 7 out of the 12 identified critical minerals. India doesn’t have any declared resources for them, except light rare-earths (found along with monazite sands) and beryllium. I hope that the CEEW analysis will trigger discussions on innovative financing for mineral resource development, supply agreements, and the global governance of critical mineral resources.”


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