NALCO, HCL and MECL sign JV agreement to secure lithium and cobalt

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National Aluminium Company Ltd (NALCO), Hindustan Copper Ltd (HCL) and Mineral Exploration Corporation Ltd (MECL)—the three government-owned enterprises under Ministry of Mines—have signed the agreement to form a joint venture company to secure the strategic minerals of interest for the domestic battery manufacturing industry.

The JV company—Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL)—will be engaged in identification, acquisition, exploration, development, mining and processing of strategic minerals overseas for commercial use and meeting the country’s requirement for these minerals.

The authorized capital of the JV company is Rs 100 crore, with equity participation among NALCO, HCL and MECL in the ratio of 40:30:30, respectively.

Twelve strategic minerals have been identified and the initial focus will be on Lithium and Cobalt.

At present, minerals like Tin (Sn), Cobalt (Co), Lithium (Li), Germanium (Ge), Gallium (Ga), Indium (In), Beryllium (Be), Niobium (Nb), Tantalum (Ta), Tungsten (W), Bismuth (Bi) and Selenium (Se) are either not available in the country or not available in the desired quantity.

Speaking on the occasion, Prahallad Joshi, Union Minister for Mines, Coal and Parliamentary Affairs, said that KABIL will ensure mineral security of the nation, and will help in realizing the overall objective of import substitution.

Preliminary due-diligence of identified assets shall be initiated soon.

Earlier in February this year, NITI Aayog had cleared the proposal to form the JVC to acquire minerals that are not available in India.

The new company will help in building partnerships with other mineral rich countries like Australia and those in Africa and South America, where Indian expertise in exploration and mineral processing will be mutually beneficial and bring new economic opportunities.