India signs agreement to explore and exploit lithium in Argentina

Indian company KABIL was granted exclusivity over five mines in Catamarca province

The Indian government signed a deal with Catamarca province in northern Argentina to gain exclusive rights to explore and eventually exploit five lithium brine blocks in the area.

The agreement was signed Monday in Argentina between Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL) and the state-owned company Catamarca Minera y Energética (CAMYEN). The meeting was attended by Catamarca Governor Raul Jalil and Ambassador of India to Argentina Dinesh Bhatia, among others. 

According to the Indian mine ministry, this is the first ever lithium exploration and mining project undertaken by a government company of India. KABIL will start the exploration and development of five lithium brine blocks covering a 15-hectare area in Fiambalá, Catamarca.

KABIL is also preparing a US$2.5 million project to set up a branch office in Catamarca.

“We know Catamarca is a land of mining opportunities,” said Jalil in an X post, “and we want to continue working with India on other bilateral and business agreements.”

“This is a historic day for both India and Argentina,” Indian Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Coal, and Mines Shri Pralhad Joshi, said in a press release. This deal “will not only play a crucial role in driving the energy transition to a sustainable future,” he added, “but also ensure a resilient and diversified supply chain for critical and strategic minerals essential for various industries in India.”

Argentina’s lithium reserves are mostly part of the “Lithium Triangle,” an Andean region that also includes parts of Chile and Bolivia and has more than half of the world’s total lithium resources. Argentina has the world’s second-largest lithium resources, the third-largest lithium reserves, and the fourth-largest production.

India currently imports all of its lithium, with 95% of it coming from China and Hong Kong, according to data from the country’s commerce and industry ministry. In 2023, it imported around US$3 billion in lithium.

“This strategic move not only strengthens bilateral ties between India and Argentina but also contributes to the sustainable development of the mining sector,” the press release said, “ensuring a resilient and diversified supply chain for critical and strategic minerals essential for various industries.”

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