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GSI conducts 122 exploration projects for critical minerals this year

In the last three years, a total of 422 critical minerals exploration projects were taken by the scientific agency

Coal minister Pralhad Joshi was speaking at the inauguration of the first Mining Start-Up Summit at IIT, Bombay

Union Minister of Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi

Nitin Kumar New Delhi

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In the first four months of the financial year 2023-24 (FY24), a total of 122 critical minerals exploration projects were taken up by the Geological Survey of India (GSI), Union Minister of Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi said in Rajya Sabha on Monday.

In the last three years, a total of 422 critical minerals exploration projects were taken by the scientific agency. “Ministry of Mines has increased focus on exploration of these minerals in the country through the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and other agencies,” Joshi said.

Though the highest number of exploration exercises — 123 projects — were undertaken in FY23, it will be surpassed by a significant margin as this year 122 projects are already under exploration.

In a move to enhance its strategic resource security, the government has increased its focus on critical mineral exploration in the country. The Union government also released its first-ever critical minerals list, identifying 30 key critical minerals crucial to the nation’s economic growth and technological development last month.

The list comprises 30 minerals, including 17 rare earth elements (REEs) and six platinum-group elements (PGE), each designated as critical based on their economic importance and limited availability in India’s geological reserves.

Among the minerals featured on the list are antimony, beryllium, bismuth, cobalt, copper, gallium, germanium, graphite, hafnium, indium, lithium, molybdenum, niobium, nickel, PGE, phosphorous, potash, REE, rhenium, silicon, strontium, tantalum, tellurium, tin, titanium, tungsten, vanadium, zirconium, selenium, and cadmium as critical to Indian economy.

To do various jobs related to strategic minerals, a joint venture, Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KABIL), of three public-sector undertakings — National Aluminium Company, Hindustan Copper, and Mineral Exploration Company — was announced in 2019, with a stake ratio of 40:30:30.

“The objective of KABIL is to identify and acquire overseas mineral assets of critical and strategic nature such as Lithium, Cobalt, and others so as to ensure supply side assurance, said the minister, adding, “KABIL has engagements with countries like Argentina, Australia, etc. to acquire critical & strategic minerals assets.”

To expedite the development of domestic mineral resources, the government plans to encourage public and private investments in exploration, mining, and processing facilities. It also intends to facilitate the adoption of advanced technologies and international collaborations to enhance efficiency and environmental sustainability in the extraction and processing of critical minerals.

Field Season: Total projects on critical mineral

2020-21: 59
2021-22: 118
2022-23: 123
2023-24: 122

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First Published: Jul 24 2023 | 11:26 PM IST

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