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Indian PSU scouts lithium blocks in Latin America, in advanced talks with Argentina: report

The talks in Argentina are being held through KABIL, a joint sector PSU that is also scouting for opportunities in Chile and Brazil. Image: Pexels

The Government of India is in advanced talks with Argentina to acquire "multiple lithium blocks" in the country, as part of its strategy to secure critical minerals, according to a news report.

Business daily The Hindu BusinessLine quoted officials in India's mining ministry as saying an MoU in this regard would be signed shortly. The talks – and acquisition –would be spearheaded through Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KABIL), a joint venture between three public sector undertakings – the National Aluminium Company, the Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd and Hindustan Copper Ltd.

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"KABIL is close to acquisitions in Argentina and will shortly sign an agreement to secure a few lithium blocks. It is scouting opportunities in Chile and Brazil too," the newspaper quoted the official as saying. The official said India's focus was on securing copper, cobalt and lithium, and in some cases, nickel.

KABIL was set up specifically to scout for, identify, acquire, develop and process strategic minerals overseas for domestic use. Last year, the company signed MoU for lithium exploration with Australia.

Lithium is a key component in rechargeable batteries, making it essential for modern electronic devices from mobile phones to laptops to even batteries that power electric vehicles. Argentina Chile and Bolivia are rich in the mineral and together form the three corners of what is referred to as the "Lithium Triangle"

India currently imports all the major components required for lithium-ion cell manufacturing. For FY23 (the fiscal year ended March 31, 2023), the country imported ₹23,171 crore of lithium-ion, up from ₹13,673.15 crore in FY22. In an interview with ETN, Amara Raja Executive Director Vikramadithya Gourineni had highlighted the importance of securing raw material supplies. 

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