India, Australia look at increasing cooperation in critical minerals, processing – ET Auto


India, Australia look at increasing cooperation in critical minerals, processing – ET Auto

Australia has strong reserves of critical minerals and is the largest producer of lithium and the second largest producer of cobalt in the world.

New Delhi: India and Australia are looking at ways to increase cooperation in critical minerals and their processing besides battery production, Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal said on Monday. Both countries have signed an interim free trade agreement and are in negotiations to expand that into a comprehensive pact, he said.

“We are looking at how we can integrate our (India and Australia) economies in terms of battery production, in terms of mineral production, in terms of mineral processing, in terms of vehicle production,” the secretary said here at a conference on the roadmap for vehicle electrification.

He also said that the government has taken a series of steps to promote domestic manufacturing of electric vehicles (EVs) and strengthened the ecosystem around that like boosting charging infrastructure.

Speaking at the event, Australian High Commissioner to India Philip Green OAM said they have huge mineral and energy resources that can support ‘make in India’.

Australia has strong reserves of critical minerals and is the largest producer of lithium and the second largest producer of cobalt in the world.

“We want to make India able to get easier access to all of the critical minerals and other capabilities in our society that can help India’s green transition, and the only way we can achieve that is by a full free trade agreement,” he said.

Critical minerals such as copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth elements are essential components in many of today’s rapidly growing clean energy technologies – from wind turbines and electricity networks to electric vehicles.

Demand for these minerals is growing quickly with clean energy transitions gathering pace.

Barthwal added that like Australia, India has signed a trade pact with the four-nation European bloc EFTA and Norway is a key member of that grouping.

“Norway has done extremely well in terms of the renewable energy sector…and we are collaborating with Norway. Similarly, we are collaborating with the European Union.

“We have a technology group where we are looking at different technologies in battery making, in vehicle making, in mineral processing, in critical technologies,” he said, adding, this is the time when each and everyone in the globe has to join hands together because this energy transition requirements and the commitment to reduce carbon emissions is for everybody.

Talking about huge opportunities in the EV sector in India, Barthwal said that the sale of EVs is increasing at a faster pace in the country and that requires a whole ecosystem not only EV manufacturing, but also battery making and charging ecosystem.

“A whole gamut of activities is going to open up through the energy transition in the country and there is a lot to do both by the government and the private sector and therefore great opportunity is coming to investors to invest in this whole value chain,” the secretary said.

The government, he said, is focusing on the whole chain, including the production of minerals.

The mines ministry is looking at resources in India as well as in the global supply chain.

“We understand that this is a sector which is upcoming, and there are disabilities and constraints and therefore we are looking at how to provide a system of a level playing field, a system of incentives so that the sector grows in India,” Barthwal said.

At present, around 1.7 million EVs have been sold in the country.

The government has rolled out schemes like Faster Adoption & Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) and production linked incentive scheme for the sector.

“We are looking at the whole gamut of value chain so that disabilities of manufacturers can be removed,” he said.

The Centre, he said, is also talking with states to promote ease of doing business for the sector and on land availability for production and manufacturing.

“We are trying to create an ecosystem whereby investments can be encouraged…close to USD 500 billion of potential exists. So I think it’s a huge opportunity,” he added.

  • Published On Jul 2, 2024 at 10:27 AM IST

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