Australia, India starts talks on cooperation in rare earth minerals

As coal and mines minister Pralhad Joshi’s visit to Australia got underway, the two countries on Monday talked about how they could collaborate on rare earth minerals, particularly lithium, to support India’s shift to renewable energy.

Joshi spoke with Australia’s Minister for Resources Madeleine King and also toured a number of important locations, including a lithium processing plant built by a partnership between China’s Tianqi Lithium Corporation and IGO Limited in Kwinana, a town close to Perth.

Joshi stated that he and King had in-depth conversations about working together on important minerals, particularly lithium. In order to increase Australian presence in the Indian mining industry, he “assured complete cooperation of the Indian Govt.”

Joshi tweeted that he had discussed “exploring joint investment opportunities for utilising the available advanced lithium processing facilities in Australia [and] enhancing cooperation in the field of strategic minerals,” describing lithium hydroxide as a crucial component for electric vehicle batteries.

Bill Johnston, the state minister for mining, petroleum, and energy for Western Australia, was another person he spoke with to discuss plans to improve industry collaboration.

Joshi’s visit had been planned for a while and was made possible by the administration of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison. His meeting with King, a minister in the newly formed administration of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, signaled continuity in the two nations’ ongoing ambitions to intensify their collaboration in the crucial mining industry.

The Scott Morrison administration outlined policies in its last months that would provide Indian companies “front-row access” to Australia’s lithium and cobalt assets. More than 55% of the world’s lithium is produced in Australia, and rare earth minerals, which are necessary for clean technologies and electric cars, have emerged as a major area of collaboration between the two countries.

Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. (KABIL), which handles Indian investments in essential minerals, is represented in Joshi’s team. Australia announced a $1.25 billion investment in April for the refining of essential minerals and rare earths, which would guarantee the delivery of refined resources to India via reliable and secure supply chains.

The lithium hydroxide factory in Kwinana, which is planned to generate 24,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium hydroxide a year at full capacity, was built with more over $1 billion in investment from Tianqi Lithium Corporation and its partner IGO Limited. Joshi’s visit to Australia’s first fully automated lithium hydroxide facility was joined by King.

Joshi also went to a CSIRO facility in Kensington and the Perth Core Library of the Geological Survey of Western Australia (GSWA), which has rock samples, mineral cores, and petroleum cores.

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