India on Monday announced the acquisition of five lithium blocks in Argentina.

The Mines Ministry, through Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL), signed an agreement with Argentina’s State-owned CAMYEN. 

CAMYEN, which stands for Catamarca Minera Y Energetica  Sociedad Del Estado, is based out of the Catamarca province in the Latin American nation.

The State-owned KABIL will start exploration and development of five lithium brine blocks, namely Cortadera-I, Cortadera-VII, Cortadera-VIII, Cateo-2022-01810132, and Cortadera-VI, covering an area of about 15,703 hectares. 

KABIL is also preparing to set up a branch office at Catamarca, Argentina, officials told businessline,addingthat the project cost (for development and exploration) is about ₹200 crore and is spread over a five-year period. 

With this agreement, KABIL has obtained Exploration and Exclusivity Rights for five blocks. The agreement will allow the State-owned entity to evaluate, prospect, and explore. Upon subsequent discovery of lithium minerals, exploitation rights for commercial production have also been granted. 

This is the first-ever lithium exploration and mining project undertaken by a government company in India.

According to Pralhad Joshi, Union Minister for Mines, this will not only boost the country’s quest for sourcing lithium but also bring in technical and operational experience for brine-type lithium exploration, exploitation, and extraction.

India’s lithium requirements, amounting to around ₹24,000 crore, are met through imports, with the majority of supplies coming from China.

Lithium, often called ‘white gold’, forms the cornerstone of the country’s transition to green energy options. It is used across various categories, including energy storage solutions, batteries for mobile phones, and in EVs. 

Argentina is part of the world’s “Lithium Triangle”, along with Chile and Bolivia, and the three together have more than half of the world’s total lithium resources.

Argentina also has the distinction of having the second-largest lithium resources, third-largest lithium reserves and forth-largest production in the world.

According to Joshi, this is a “historic day”.

“We are scripting a new chapter in bilateral ties. The agreement signing between KABIL and CAMYEN will not only play a crucial role in driving the energy transition for sustainable future, but also ensure a resilient and diversified supply chain for critical and strategic minerals essential for various industries in India,” he said. 

Present during the agreement with KABIL were the Governor of Catamarca Raul Jalil, the Minister of Mines Catamarca, Marcelo Murua, and the Ambassador of India to Argentina, Dinesh Bhatia.