On Wednesday (29 Nov 2-23), the Coal and Mines Minister, Pralhad Joshi, initiated the auction of 20 critical minerals valued at Rs 45,000 crore. Among these minerals, two are lithium blocks, with one located in Jammu & Kashmir and the other in Chhattisgarh. These critical minerals encompass lithium, rare earth elements (REE), nickel, copper, chromium, phosphorite, potash, galuconite, graphite, manganese, and molybdenum, among others, in this initial auction phase.

The auctioned critical minerals will be available in various Indian states, including Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat. Notably, there are two lithium blocks, one in Chhattisgarh and one in Jammu and Kashmir.

The e-auction process is slated to commence after January 22, 2024, and the tendering process will conclude on 20 February 2024. Of the 20 mineral blocks, 16 are earmarked for the grant of composite licenses, while the remaining four are designated for the grant of mining leases.

This represents the first phase of auctions, with the government planning to introduce more critical mineral blocks in subsequent phases, as stated by the minister. In February 2023, India discovered its first lithium deposits in Jammu & Kashmir, estimating reserves at 5.9 million tonnes. Furthermore, in July, India modified its mining regulations to allow private miners to explore and extract these vital materials.


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