News-CRUX-10     1st June 2024        
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Context: India is planning to soon sign new and updated mineral pacts with about a dozen countries in Africa.

Minerals Pact with African Countries

  • Countries: Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
  • Objective: The aim of these mineral agreements will encompass not only meeting the demand for critical minerals, but also addressing all of India’s mineral requirements.
  • Minerals: Cobalt, nickel, graphite, diamonds, platinum, and uranium are among the major minerals found in Africa. 

o Currently, India has memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with six African countries — Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

o India has courted several African nations under multilateral initiatives, such as the International Solar Alliance and Global Biofuel Alliance.

  • Strategic Mineral Supply Chain: The DRC has the largest cobalt reserves in the world, at around six million metric tonnes, as of 2023.
  • Expanding Lithium Plants: Chinese-funded new lithium plants in Zimbabwe are set to begin operations in 2024. Others in the pipeline are Mali, Ethiopia, the DRC, and Namibia, according to S&P Global.

India's Response to Mineral Demand

  • Acceleration in Mine Auctions: To meet its mineral demand, India has accelerated the pace of auctioning mines, with a particular emphasis on critical minerals.
  • Critical Minerals List and Auctions: The Centre released its first critical minerals’ list in June 2023 and announced the first round of critical minerals auctions in November of the previous year.
  • Number of Mineral Blocks: Currently, 38 critical mineral blocks are up for auction. Since 2015, a total of 354 mineral blocks have been successfully auctioned, according to the Ministry of Mines data.

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