New India-Argentina lithium agreement to help achieve global net zero goals
The Government of India has entered into an agreement with Argentina for the exploration of lithium in the South American nation, as it seeks to delve into the supply of the rare element, which is crucial for the transformation towards an 'environment-friendly' future.
Along with Chile and Bolivia, Argentina has more than half of the world's lithium reserves. The most important use of lithium is in rechargeable batteries for mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras and electric vehicles.
The agreement was signed between Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL) and the state-owned enterprise of Catamarca Province, Argentina.
The agreement was signed in the presence of the Governor of Catamarca, Lic Raul Jalil; the Vice Governor of Catamarca, Eng Ruben Dusso; the Minister of Mines of Catamarca, Marcelo Murua; and the Ambassador of India to Argentina, Dinesh Bhatia.
The signing ceremony was virtually attended by the Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Coal and Mines, Pralhad Joshi, and Secretary, Ministry of Mines, VL Kantha Rao.
According to an official statement from the Ministry of Mines, this is the first ever lithium exploration and mining project by a government company in India. KABIL will start the exploration and development of five lithium brine blocks, viz., 1. Cortadera-I, 2. Cortadera-VII, 3. Cortadera-VIII, 4. Cateo-2022-01810132 and 5. Cortadera-VI, covering an area of about 15,703 hectares, located in the Catamarca province of Argentina.
KABIL is also preparing to set up a branch office in Catamarca, Argentina. The project cost is about Rs 200 crore.
With this agreement, KABIL has obtained the Exploration and Exclusivity Right for 5 blocks to evaluate, prospect and explore, and subsequent to the existence or discovery of lithium minerals, the exploitation right for commercial production.
This will not only boost India's quest for sourcing lithium but will also help in bringing in technical and operational experience for brine-type lithium exploration, exploitation, and extraction.