KOLKATA (miningweekly.com) – The Indian government has formally approved a joint venture (JV) of State-run mineral companies exclusively dedicated to acquiring strategic mineral assets overseas.
Christened Khanij Bidesh India Limited (Kabil), the JV partners to pick up equity will include, National Aluminium Company Limited (Nalco), Hindustan Copper and Mineral Exploration Corporation.
The venture has been mandated by the government to acquire strategic mineral assets overseas with particular focus on lithium and cobalt, two critical inputs for the government’s push towards electric vehicles and the ramp-up of lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacities within the country.
The venture will also be focused on mineral assets in Africa, which could include outright purchases of mineral blocks on the continent or picking up equity stakes in existing mining companies, with the provisions to buy back part of the production, officials familiar with the formation of the new entity have said.
The other strategic metals India is interested in include tin, tungsten, gallium, lniobium, selenium and indium.
The new company is also expected to pick up the thread from Nalco, which has already initiated a move to scout for bauxite assets and linked refining capacities in New Guinea, off the Australian coast.
Nalco has set up an internal task force to explore opportunities to acquire bauxite assets in New Guinea, which is known for high-quality low silica grade bauxite. Kabil is expected to follow up on groundwork already completed by its partner, Nalco.
Kabil, which will be fully set up before the end of March, is also a front-runner for work in Bolivia, taking up the Latin American country’s offer to mine lithium with an agreement to buy back and ship to India. In talks held last year, the Bolivian government insisted that a project be based on a government-to-government basis and hence Kabil, as an Indian government-owned entity, would suit such a precondition, officials said.