India has launched the first tranche of auctions for critical and strategic minerals worth around ₹ 45,000 crore. The 20 mineral blocks covering lithium and rare earth elements (REE), nickel, copper, chromium, phosphorite, potash, glauconite, graphite, manganese, and molybdenum were put out to bid.

The two-stage online auction process will continue till February, 2024. Of the 20 blocks, 16 are composite licences (exploration, discovery, and up-to-processing) blocks, while four are mining leases. The blocks are located across eight states, namely Odisha, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Jammu & Kashmir. The eligible bidder shall be selected based on the highest percentage of the value of the mineral dispatched quoted.

India’s first official lithium found in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir, and the Salal Haimna block, with an expected reserve of 5.9 million tonne has been put up for auction. The Katghora block in Chhattisgarh, consisting of lithium and REE currently in the G4 stage, or reconnaissance study phase has also been put on auction.

Among global companies, Korean and Japanese mining companies have expressed interest in bidding for India’s lithium reserves. Across 24 critical minerals, teh Ministry of Mines has identified 100-odd blocks. The second tranche discussions will take place post-February, as informed by Union Minister of Mines, Pralhad Joshi.

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