NEW DELHI: Australia is all set to supply critical minerals required for India’s electric vehicles, solar power projects and other strategic areas, said Canberra’s Minister for Resources and Minister for Northern Australia Madeleine King on Monday. Welcoming India’s Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Coal and Mines Prahlad Joshi, Ms. King said Australia will commit A$5.8 million to the three-year India-Australia Critical Minerals Investment Partnership.

“Australia has the resources to help India fulfil its ambitions to lower emissions and meet growing demand for critical minerals to help India’s space and defence industries, and the manufacture of solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles. Australia welcomes India’s strong interest and support for bilateral partnership, which will help advance critical minerals projects in Australia while diversifying global supply chains,” said Ms. King, following her first meeting with the Indian counterpart since the Albanese government was elected in May.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, soon after his May 23 election victory, had participated in the Quad summit in Tokyo along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, where all sides pledged to focus on green and sustainable forms of energy that have gained greater global attention especially in the backdrop of the ongoing Russian military campaign against Ukraine. Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles visited India during June 20-23.

Newer Trade Horizons

The war in Ukraine has in fact opened newer horizons for the market of critical minerals and as a result, Australia can emerge as a key supplier of the minerals to India. Before the Russian military invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24, eastern Ukraine (Donbas) was expected to emerge as a major source of lithium in the world market. Russian advances and ultimately the control of the Donbas region – Donetsk & Luhansk – has forced emerging electric vehicle makers to look for lithium elsewhere, like in Australia. Apart from lithium, the war has also affected the market of minerals that are necessary for the making of solar power generation.

Reflecting the changing global realities that are driving India and Australia to work closer on critical minerals, minister King said, “Australia is a trusted supplier of resources and energy to India, and we can build on the success of those established supply chains as Australia’s critical minerals sector grows.”

Presenting the emerging outline of India-Australia collaboration in the critical minerals sector, Mr. Joshi referred to the recently signed MoU between Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KABIL) and the Critical Minerals Facilitation Office (CMFO) of Australia that will try to source lithium and cobalt from Australia and said, “Both CMFO and the Indian JV KABIL will jointly fund the due diligence process with an initial total amount of US$6 million. Once due diligence is completed and potential projects are identified, we will explore investment opportunities through different methods as envisaged in the MoU.”

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