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Parliament Passes Bill Allowing Private Sector to Mine Lithium and Other Atomic Minerals

The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023, was recently passed by the Indian Parliament, enabling the private sector to undertake mining operations for six out of 12 atomic minerals, including lithium, as well as deep-seated minerals like gold and silver. This landmark decision seeks to boost domestic exploration and production of critical minerals and accelerate the growth of industries relying on these resources.

Opening Up New Opportunities for Private Sector:

  • The Bill grants permission to private companies to mine and explore previously reserved atomic minerals, fostering increased competition and investment in the sector.
  • Lithium, beryllium, niobium, titanium, tantalum, and zirconium are among the atomic minerals now open for exploration by private entities.
  • Deep-seated minerals, including gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, nickel, cobalt, platinum group minerals, and diamonds, will also be available for private sector mining and auction.

Empowering the Central Government:

  • The legislation empowers the central government to conduct exclusive auctions for mining leases and composite licenses for certain critical minerals, ensuring transparent allocation and efficient resource management.

Boosting Electric Vehicle and Energy Storage Industries:

  • The inclusion of lithium in the list of minerals available for private exploration is a significant move as it is a crucial component in manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage devices.
  • The increased availability of lithium in the domestic market is expected to drive growth in the electric vehicle sector and boost renewable energy storage solutions.

Enhancing Domestic Mineral Production:

  • By opening up mining to the private sector, the government aims to reduce the country’s dependence on imports for the 95 “most precious” minerals found in India.
  • This shift is expected to result in increased exploration and production of critical minerals to meet the nation’s growing demands.

Addressing Challenges of Deep-Seated Minerals:

  • Deep-seated minerals such as gold, silver, and others present challenges in exploration and mining due to their depth and complexity.
  • Private sector involvement is seen as a potential “force multiplier” to enhance production capacity and overcome the difficulties associated with deep-seated mineral extraction.

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