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Business News/ Economy / Argentina to boost India's lithium quest

Argentina to boost India's lithium quest

Indian investments are sought in Argentina's lithium-rich province of Catamarca

 Susana Peralta, president of Catamarca's state-owned mining firm Camyen Catamarca. Image: PixabayPremium
Susana Peralta, president of Catamarca's state-owned mining firm Camyen Catamarca. Image: Pixabay

NEW DELHI : The governor of Argentina’s lithium-rich Catamarca province, Raúl Jalil, is to visit India this year, said Susana Peralta, president of Catamarca's state-owned mining firm Camyen Catamarca, in a potential boost to India’s lithium sourcing play.

India is keen to secure assured supplies of lithium, widely used in making batteries for electric vehicles. In January this year, Camyen and India’s state-owned mining firm Kabil signed an agreement for the latter to explore and develop five lithium blocks.

“This will not only boost its (Kabil’s) quest for sourcing lithium for India but will also help in bringing in technical and operational experience for Brine type lithium exploration, exploitation and extraction," the mines ministry said at the time. Kabil is expected to spend 200 crore on the project.

A number of international firms, including China’s Zijin Mining Group, have already made forays into Argentina on lithium. The country is the world’s fourth largest lithium producer and has the third largest reserves in the world, after Chile and Australia.

Chinese firms have also established a footprint in Bolivia and Chile, which form part of the “lithium triangle" along with Argentina. China also imports a large amount of lithium from foreign suppliers in Australia and Latin America, and has over half of the world’s lithium refining capacity. It has also made forays into African markets with some success.

“It is not too late for Indian companies to enter Argentina for lithium exploration but if you consider the five years of exploration, Indian firms should start to move in and take action in terms of involvement in the development of lithium," Camyen president Susana Peralta told Mint.

“We really want to get some other investors, not only for lithium. We have many other minerals. We have really good projects on copper and gold. We have many other areas that are interesting and that we know that have reserves of minerals. It’s important for us to develop all of these places so Indian firms are welcome to keep joining us," Peralta said.

Camyen is in talks with an Indian firm for a mining deal of copper and gold, she added.

According to estimates by McKinsey, global production of lithium is expected to grow 20% annually to hit 3 million tonnes by 2030. Surging sales of electric vehicles and the demands of the energy transition are expected to boost demand for lithium considerably, which places countries like Argentina in an advantageous position.

India has also seen discoveries of lithium reserves in Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Jharkhand.

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Published: 03 Mar 2024, 07:13 PM IST
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