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World looks at India to break China’s monopoly on rare earth mining

India must focus on attaining self sufficiency in producing rare earth

As the world grapples with a strained supply chain network amid surge in Covid 19 cases in China and its subsequent stringent measures, countries are now starting to scout for alternative producers including India. The Centre is expected to roll out a concrete strategy for encouraging investments in rare earth mining as global companies are now scouting for alternative markets.

Industry bodies including the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) have taken up the issue with the government. A person with direct knowledge on the matter told India Narrative that the government could carve out specific measures in the Union Budget next year.

Rare earths comprising 17 elements include cobalt, copper, lithium nickel among others and are critical to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The rare earth components are also required to manufacture electric vehicles, batteries, smartphones and even military weapons systems.

Developing a well carved out value chain of rare earth is also in sync with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Aatmanirbhar programme.

“While developing a well functioning rare earth mining industry will take time, the process needs to begin and the government along with the private sector must move fast on this to ensure India can take pole position in supplying these minerals to the world,” an analyst said.

A few countries such as Germany have started to take measures to block Chinese investments in rare earth mining as well.

According to Oilprice.com, though the west is looking for alternatives to Chinese rare earth magnets, “the process is slow.”

“Since China has supplied rare earth supplies to the world predominantly for decades, breaking dependence is proving difficult. However, new sources are arising,” it said, adding that India will emerge as a contender.

Vietnam and Brazil are the other two countries sitting on huge piles of rare earth minerals. However, at present, their production is among the lowest among all countries at only 1,000 tons per year each, a report by Visual Capitalist pointed out.

India has the world’s fifth largest rare earth element reserves.

Also read: China’s economic woes deepen as manufacturing takes a hit