India passes law allowing auction and mining of lithium reserves

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s parliament on Wednesday passed a law allowing the government to auction and mine its newly-discovered reserves of lithium, among other minerals, increasing the mining of the critical raw material for electric vehicle batteries.

Under the law, lithium, along with other minerals was removed from a previous list of atomic minerals, which prevented it from being auctioned to and mined by private companies.

“Upon removal of these minerals from the list of atomic minerals, exploration and mining of these minerals will be open to private sector,” a government statement said.

As a result, exploration and mining of these minerals is expected to increase significantly in the country,” the statement said.

Lithium reserves were discovered earlier this year in the federally administered region of Jammu and Kashmir, and the government has said it hopes to find more reserves later this year.

Other minerals that will now be open for mining and auction include titanium, beryl, niobium and zirconium, the statement said.

These minerals were earlier only allowed to be mined by state-run companies, which meant that they were mined in limited quantities, and the involvement of private companies could be a ‘force multiplier’, the statement said.

“There is a need to vigorously increase exploration and production of the minerals proposed to be removed from the list of atomic minerals to meet the growing demands of the country,” the statement said.

(Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Editing by Louise Heavens)