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Tycoon Birla’s Hindalco bids for Indian critical minerals leases

14th February 2024

By: Bloomberg

  

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Hindalco Industries is bidding for critical minerals exploration sites being auctioned by India, as the metals producer owned by billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla seeks to build its portfolio of materials required for the world’s green-energy transition.

India began the process late last year to hold its first tranche of auctions for critical minerals sites, key to its goal of gradually moving away from fossil fuels to cleaner energy. The government will sell rights to about 20 blocks of land to explore for metals including rare earths and molybdenum in a process valued at 450-billion rupees ($5.4-billion).

“We are looking at minerals like lithium, graphite, nickel, copper ores, so there are quite a few interesting critical minerals auctions coming up and we have taken and applied for most” available, MD Satish Pai said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Wednesday. “They are all exploration licenses.”

India currently needs to import most critical minerals, and access to local mines is important for the growth of the electric vehicles market and the renewable-power sector. The government has offered billions of dollars under a production-linked incentive plan to boost battery cell production in a move seen as attempting to stave off its heavy reliance on China.

“It is very interesting how underexplored India is for these types of critical minerals and I think, using our mining expertise, we are certainly going to be participating in that,” Pai said. “All these things that are related to electrification and electric batteries is really where we are focusing on.” It would take a couple of years of exploration before large-scale mining could occur, he added.

Hindalco is also working on a project to extract more gallium from bauxite, an ore used to produce aluminum, after the Indian government approached it, Pai said in November. The company is already a large producer of vanadium and plans to extract some rare earth elements from an upcoming copper and e-waste recycling facility.

Edited by Bloomberg

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