Coal India exploring lithium assets in Argentina with US company

The Caucharí-Olaroz project, in Argentina’s Jujuy province. (Image courtesy of Lithium Americas.)

State-run Coal India Ltd is exploring lithium blocks in Argentina along with a US company to secure supplies of the battery material, an Indian source with direct knowledge said on Tuesday.

The efforts are part of India’s membership under the US-led Minerals Security Partnership (MSP), which New Delhi joined last year to ensure adequate supplies of minerals to meet zero-carbon goals.

India and the United States said on Monday they were co-investing in a lithium resource project in South America and a rare earths deposit in Africa to diversify critical minerals supply chains.

India has been in talks with several countries, including the US, to collaborate in lithium processing and avoid relying on China, Reuters had reported.

“Coal India has come forward for the Kachi block in Argentina in which a US company and two other countries are interested to explore under the MSP,” the source said, declining to be identified due to the sensitive nature of discussions.

Preliminary studies are being conducted, the source added.

In February, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on a trip to Argentina that the US was exploring investment opportunities in critical minerals, especially lithium.

Coal India and India’s federal Ministry of Mines did not immediately respond to Reuters‘ emails for comments.

Under the minerals partnership, which India had joined last year, New Delhi was invited to participate in 20-25 critical minerals projects, of which four have been identified by the Indian government, with two of these are in collaboration with the US, the source said.

The second project is in the Kangankunde block in Malawi, the source said, which is being explored by India’s state-owned IREL (India) Ltd for rare earths.

IREL did not immediately respond to a Reuters email seeking comments.

The Indian government has also asked miners to explore critical minerals in Australia’s Dubbo region, the source said.

India had also proposed a critical minerals trade deal with US, which would prohibit imposition of tariffs on both countries by each other and would be similar to a pact US has with Japan that grants Japanese automakers wider access to US electrical vehicles tax credit, the source said.

However, the US is in talks with India for a bilateral critical minerals memorandum of understanding (MoU), both countries said on Monday.

(By Neha Arora and Krishn Kaushik; Editing by Louise Heavens)


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