The government of India is set to launch the long-awaited auctions of critical mineral mines over the next few weeks, Business Standard reported.

The government plans to finalise the auction roadmap, Ministry of Mines additional secretary Sanjay Lohiya stated at the India Mining Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Since August 2023, preparations have been taking place to auction about 100 critical mineral blocks including lithium, cobalt, nickel, platinum and other rare earth elements. Works on legal framework and block identification is said to have been completed.

Tender for bids is expected to begin in December 2023 while the auctions could begin three months later.

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Business Standard quoted Lohiya as saying: “The auction will start from our ministry in the next few weeks. It will not be one or two rounds in a year but it will depend on the availability of (mineral) blocks and the demand in the market.”

The auctions plan coincides with the country’s ambition for the growth of critical minerals and its commitment to promote innovation and economic growth.

In July, the government prepared ground for the auctions, by approving amendments to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. The amendments will allow for the mining of lithium and five other critical minerals.

The amendment also proposed to include a provision for exploration licence which will be awarded through auctions.

It follows the discovery of lithium reserves in the country’s Jammu and Kashmir region and state of Karnataka.

State-run companies such as Coal India and NTPC have been planning to enter the mining sector to tap into the essential minerals.

Additionally, Khanij Bidesh India which was joint venture by NALCO, HCL and MECL, 2019. This new company will help to identify, acquire and develop overseas locations of critical minerals to supply them to the country.