Govt To Start Auction For 100 Critical Mineral Block In 4 Months: Mines Secretary


The Centre is gearing up to kick off the auction process for approximately 100 critical mineral blocks within the next four months, Mines Secretary Vivek Bharadwaj said in an interview with Bloomberg. The strategic move to secure a domestic supply of essential raw materials required for the green energy transition comes days after the government passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023. 

Mines Secretary Vivek Bharadwaj, as per the report, said that these blocks include nickel, lithium, cobalt, and platinum, along with rare earths. 

“The legal framework has been laid out and the blocks have been identified,” Bharadwaj said, adding that the bidding tender is expected to be out by December and auctions may start three months later.


The report also noted that actions align with India’s goal of establishing a steady supply of critical minerals to support its vision of becoming a prominent battery and electric vehicle manufacturing hub, while simultaneously striving towards achieving its net-zero goal.

Notably, India does not mining of critical materials such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel.

Earlier this month, the government passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023, which removes minerals such as lithium, beryllium, titanium, niobium, tantalum, and zirconium from the list of atomic minerals. The bill also introduced an Exploration Licence (EL) to undertake reconnaissance and prospecting operations for critical and deep-seated minerals. 


As per the report, Mines Secretary also said that in order to incentivise global and local miners to participate in the process, the government is planning to reimburse half the cost of exploration. It’s expected that companies might require up to three years before the newly acquired mines can become fully operational.

The reforms will be key for auctioning lithium blocks recently identified in Jammu and Kashmir, along with the state of Karnataka, the report noted. 

Notably, several PSUs have embarked on a global quest to secure similar assets, while major energy players like Coal India Ltd. and NTPC Ltd. are making strategies to extract these materials domestically. A joint venture known as Khanij Bidesh India Ltd., comprising three government-run companies, has also been established to acquire critical mineral assets from abroad, primarily targeting locations in Australia and South America. 


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