Free Press Journal

‘Rare earths to play crucial role in ‘Make in India’s success’



New Delhi: Twelve minerals, including rare earths that are used in sectors such as aerospace, nuclear energy and defence, will play an important role in the success of the ‘Make in India’ programme, a study said today. According to the study by policy research body the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), such minerals would play a key role in nurturing domestic manufacturing to support government’s low-carbon plans, such as the 100 GW solar power target, hybrid and electric vehicles and efficient lighting.

These 12 minerals, including beryllium, germanium, rare earths (heavy and light), rhenium, tantalum among others, have specialised use in a range of sectors and applications, such as aerospace, automobile, defense, entertainment systems, laptops, medical imaging, nuclear energy and smartphones.

The study, supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), provides a framework for India to assess the impact of critical minerals in the manufacturing sector, considering both economic importance and associated supply risks.

India currently has no declared domestic reserves for majority of the identified critical minerals and may be heavily import dependent on China for a few of them over the coming years, the study added.

“China is currently a leading global supplier for 6 out of the 12 mineral resources identified as critical for India by 2030. Over coming years, India will need to strategically develop joint partnerships with existing global players (private firms and governments) to secure assured supply of critical minerals,” it said.

Mines Secretary Balvinder Kumar, who was present at the event, said the CEEW study will be extremely useful in framing policies that deal with national security and high-tech manufacturing.

DST Secretary Ashutosh Sharma said the study, supported by its National Science and Technology Management Information System (NSTMIS) division, identifies 12 critical minerals from a total of 49 non-fuel minerals estimated to find use in Indian manufacturing by 2030.

“It will open new vistas for R&D and collaborations for securing assured supplies of critical minerals. The study will assist  policymakers and captains of industry to  draw up plans to secure India’s needs of identified critical minerals in pursuit of sustainable industrial growth,” he added.

India is totally import dependent for 7 out of the 12 identified critical minerals, and the country does not have any declared resources for them, except light rare-earths (found along with monazite sands) and beryllium. CEEW CEO Arunabha Ghosh said, “To meet our economic and developmental goals, India will need to first focus on domestic exploration of critical minerals.”

It also needs to secure critical mineral resources through strategic acquisition of overseas mines and signing diplomatic and trade agreements, promoting R&D to find better substitutes for priority minerals and promoting scale and innovation in the recycling and material recovery sector, he added.