The world’s fastest-growing economy is set to reduce its dependence on Chinese-sourced lithium, as it recently purchased exploration and production rights to five lithium blocks in South America.
Worth a historic US$24 million, the deal signed between government-owned Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KBIL) and Camyen SE, a mining company owned by the Argentine government, will give the former rights to five blocks within the latter’s Catamarca region. Mining this area gives India the ability to boost its lithium reserves even as it develops its lithium mining sector.
In a post made on social media platform X, Indian minister for coal and mines Pralhad Joshi lauded the agreement as a way to strengthen and diversify his country’s supply chain when it comes to lithium and other critical materials necessary for the shift to renewable energy.
Currently, the number of heavy industry facilities in India as well as its transportation sector have earned it a place among the world’s biggest producers of greenhouse gas emissions. Officials hope that securing a regular supply of lithium and the more widespread adoption of electric transportation will help address this issue.
In 2023, India discovered lithium deposits in Jammu and Kashmir. While in disputed territory, it is estimated that these deposits will yield up to 5.9 million tons of high-grade lithium for the country’s use.
However, as it may take some time to develop those sites, India seeks to put a substantial dent in the amount of lithium imported from China through strategic partnerships with other lithium-producing nations.
Argentina, in particular, is part of the Lithium Triangle: a region within the South American continent that encompasses the country, as well as parts of neighboring Bolivia and Chile. The total estimated amount of lithium that could be sourced from the region could be over 50% of the world’s lithium resources.