India Identifies List of 30 Critical Minerals: Economic Implications

Posted by Written by Khyati Anand Reading Time: 9 minutes

India has released a list of 30 critical minerals crucial for its economic growth and development across sectors, such as energy, telecommunications, defense, and more. By producing this list, India is acknowledging the need to mitigate supply chain disruptions that could affect its access to these critical mineral resources. Besides the list, the government has released a policy roadmap that support’s the country’s ambition for cleaner technologies and its goal of becoming a net zero emitter of greenhouse gases by 2070. The establishment of the Centre of Excellence for Critical Minerals will further facilitate these goals.

India has identified 30 critical minerals that are deemed essential for the country’s “self-reliance” and is making moves to address potential supply chain vulnerabilities. At a recent event, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Coal, and Mines, Pralhad Joshi, released the ‘Report of the Committee on Identification of Critical Minerals,’ which features a comprehensive list of these minerals.

The list encompasses a diverse range of minerals, including antimony, beryllium, bismuth, cobalt, copper, gallium, germanium, graphite, hafnium, indium, lithium, molybdenum, niobium, nickel, phosphorous, potash, titanium, tungsten, and rare earth elements. India will establish the Center of Excellence for Critical Minerals (CECM) to periodically identify and update the list. This body will also be responsible for executing functions to ensure a reliable value chain for critical minerals.

These 30 critical minerals hold immense importance for India’s economy, as they cater to diverse sectors, such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals, energy, telecommunications, and defense. They play a pivotal role in driving growth and development across various industries. As the global economy advances, the demand for these minerals is expected to soar as they power essential technologies in telecommunications, high-tech electronics, defense, transportation, and more.

Challenges and vulnerabilities in critical mineral supply chains

Critical minerals, essential for key technologies, face significant risks of disruption in their supply chains. These minerals are deemed critical due to their limited availability in specific regions, leading to increased reliance on them across various industries. The vulnerability of these supply chains poses substantial risks to a country’s economic development and national security, given their vital importance in industries, manufacturing processes, and defense equipment. Numerous factors, including market immaturity, social unrest, political decisions, mine accidents, natural disasters, geological scarcity, war, and pandemics, contribute to the risks associated with critical mineral supply chains.

List of critical minerals identified through a three-step process in India

The list of critical minerals varies among countries, depending on their industries and priorities. For example, the United States has identified 50 critical minerals, Japan has identified 31, the United Kingdom has 18, the European Union has 34, and Canada has 31.

India arrived at its list of 30 critical minerals through a three-step process. In the first stage, they reviewed the critical mineral strategies of other countries, such as the US and Japan, identifying 69 critical elements for future initiatives by major economies.

In the second stage, inter-ministerial consultations took place, involving ministries like power, atomic energy, renewable energy, and other government departments. These consultations helped identify minerals critical to their respective sectors.

In the third stage, mineral criticality was evaluated using an empirical formula that was developed in consultation with the International Energy Agency (IEA). This formula aided in assessing the criticality of minerals for India’s specific needs and requirements.

List of Critical Minerals in India

Critical minerals

Major applications



Flame retardants, lead-acid batteries, lead alloys, plastics (catalysts and stabilizers), glass, and ceramics



Automotive components: transport and defense manufacturing of machinery, electronic, and telecommunications equipment



Chemicals, pharmaceuticals, casting of iron



Batteries, pigments, and coatings



Electric vehicles (EVs), batteries, corrosion-resistant alloys, aerospace applications, pigments, and dyes



Electrical and electronics products, electrical wiring, solar panels, automotive industry



Semiconductors, integrated circuits, and LEDs



Optical fibers, satellites, and solar cells



Batteries, lubricants, EVs, and fuel cells for EVs



Superalloys, catalyst precursors, semiconductors, oxides for optical, and nuclear reactors



Electronics (laptops, LED monitors/TVs, smartphones), and semi-conductors



Electric vehicles, batteries, glassware, ceramics, fuel manufacturing, lubricant



Steel alloys, pigments and dyes, catalysts, electrical, and electronic



Construction, transportation



Stainless steel, solar panels, batteries, aerospace, defense applications, and electric vehicles



Auto catalysts, jewelry, medicine, and electronic equipment used by the military



Mineral fertilizer



Chemical fertilizers and water softeners



Permanent magnets for electricity generators and motors, catalysts, polishing, batteries, electronics, defense technologies, the wind energy sector, aviation, and space



Super-alloys, aerospace and machinery uses, catalysts in the petroleum industry



Electrolytic, manganese, glass, and pigments



Semiconductors, electronics, transport equipment, paints, and aluminum alloys



Alloys of aluminum, pigments and fillers, glass, magnets, and pyrotechnic applications



Capacitors, superalloys, carbides, medical technology



Solar power, thermoelectric devices, rubber vulcanizing



Aerospace, construction, home decor, electronics, jewelry, and telecommunications



Aerospace and defense applications, chemicals and petrochemicals, pigments, and polymers



Mill and cutting tools, mining and construction tools, catalysts and pigments, aeronautics and energy uses, tungsten carbide



Alloys, batteries



high-value chemical manufacturing and electronics sectors

Source: Critical Minerals for India, Ministry of Mines

Why does India need a critical mineral list?

India’s critical mineral list emphasizes the areas where India must prioritize its efforts and resources to ensure an uninterrupted supply chain. Presently, India boasts a production of 95 minerals and possesses the world’s fifth-largest reserve of rare earth minerals.

Yet, India heavily relies on imports for the majority of its minerals, with a few exceptions like copper, gallium (which was discovered incidentally during alumina production), graphite, cadmium (found as a byproduct of zinc smelting and refining), phosphorus, potash, and titanium. Experts in the field suggest that India has only tapped into 10–20 percent of its actual capacity in terms of critical mineral exploration.

Establishing the critical mineral list will benefit India in the following ways:

  • Mitigate supply chain disruptions: The identification of critical minerals aims to reduce the risk of disruptions that could impact industries and sectors reliant on these minerals. By securing a stable and reliable supply, proactive measures can be taken to ensure their continuous availability, supporting the smooth functioning of the supply chain.
  • Advancing self-reliance efforts: India’s demand for critical minerals is projected to grow significantly due to government initiatives like Make in India, Smart City, Atmanirbhar Bharat, the 100 GW target for renewable energy, and the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes. These programs prioritize domestic manufacturing, self-reliance, renewable energy adoption, and the development of the consumer electronics industry. Consequently, the need for critical minerals, which are vital components for achieving these goals, will surge. Identifying them aligns with India’s self-reliance roadmap.
  • Providing a framework for policy formulation: The critical minerals list serves as a framework to guide policy, strategy, and investment decisions. It provides direction on resource allocation and development priorities, allowing policymakers and stakeholders to make informed choices. This approach optimizes the utilization of critical minerals, aligns with national objectives, and ensures a sustainable and resilient mineral sector.
  • Promoting cleaner technologies: As India strives for indigenous development of emerging technologies in the clean energy sector, scaling up manufacturing operations for components, such as solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicle (EV) batteries, becomes crucial. This expansion will lead to the substantial demand for a wide range of minerals. India’s reliance on the supply of these minerals is expected to persist in the foreseeable future. The country has set a target to become a net-zero emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG) by 2070.

Furthermore, the inclusion of fertilizers in the critical minerals list acknowledges India’s status as a major wheat and rice exporter.

India’s Net Import Reliance for Critical Minerals (2020)

Sl. No.

Critical mineral

Percentage (2020)

Major import sources (2020)








China, Belgium, the Netherlands, the US, and Japan




Sweden, China, Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines




Kuwait, Germany, South Africa, Brazil, and Thailand




Brazil, Australia, Canada, South Africa, and Indonesia




China, South Africa, Australia, France, and the US




Russia, the UK, the Netherlands, South Africa, and China




Russia, the UK, the Netherlands, South Africa, and China




Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Malaysia, and the US




China, the US, Russia, Estonia, and Slovenia




Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Malaysia, and the US




China, Madagascar, Mozambique, Vietnam, and Tanzania




South Africa, Gabon, Australia, Brazil, and China




South Africa, Mozambique, Oman, Switzerland, and Turkey




China, Malaysia, Norway, Bhutan, and the Netherlands

Source: Critical Minerals for India, Ministry of Mines

Government of India initiatives and international partnerships

Significant lithium reserves were discovered in India’s Jammu and Kashmir

In February 2023, the Raesi district of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) witnessed a remarkable discovery of 5.9 million tons of lithium reserves. Lithium, an alkali metal, holds immense importance as a primary component in rechargeable batteries used in a wide range of devices, including mobiles, laptops, EVs, medical devices like pacemakers, and energy storage solutions (ESS). This discovery has caught the attention of the Geographical Society of India (GSI), which is actively engaged in more than 151 exploration projects across the country. J&K’s deposits, if viable for extraction, would reportedly make India the seventh-largest source of lithium globally.

Recognizing the significance of the lithium reserves, the Indian government has formulated plans to conduct auctions for these reserves by the end of 2023. The objective behind these auctions is to leverage the potential of these reserves and enhance India’s standing in the global critical minerals market.

Establishment of Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. (KABIL)

In 2019, the federal government took a significant step by creating Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. (KABIL), a joint venture involving three public sector undertakings – National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO), Hindustan Copper Limited (HCL) and Mineral Exploration and Consultancy Limited (MECL) – under the aegis of Ministry of Mines, Government of India.

With a stake ratio of 40:30:30, KABIL aims to secure critical minerals crucial for India’s industrial needs. To achieve this objective, India has forged an agreement with an Argentine firm to explore and prospect for lithium. Additionally, the government is looking at potential exploration opportunities in Chile and Bolivia.

India-Australia critical minerals investment partnership

India and Australia have entered into a strategic partnership aimed at securing the critical mineral supply chain. Both countries have committed a joint investment of US$3 million each in five exploration projects located in Australia (two lithium and three cobalt). The primary objective of this partnership is to bolster exploration and extraction efforts, ensuring a stable supply of vital minerals to meet India’s growing industrial demands.

This collaborative initiative specifically focuses on supporting India’s space and defense industries, as well as the manufacturing of EVs. By leveraging Australia’s abundant reserves and advanced mining technologies, the partnership aims to enhance India’s access to critical minerals that are essential for these key sectors.

India and Australia are reported as increasingly focusing on partnerships centered around lithium, vanadium, green steel, as well as nickel, copper, and magnetite. Western Australia has attracted investments from prominent Indian mining companies. For instance, Legacy Iron Ore Ltd, a subsidiary of India’s National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC), has invested in a gold mine located in WA’s Mount Celia. Furthermore, NMDC has entered into a joint venture agreement with Hancock Prospecting, a leading Australian mining company, aimed at securing supplies of lithium and other vital minerals from Western Australia’s Central Yilgarn region.

Australia is a key player in critical minerals and rare earths, responsible for approximately half of the world’s lithium production. Additionally, it ranks as the fourth largest producer of rare earths and the second largest producer of cobalt.

Development of a critical mineral policy

In line with its commitment to sustainable resource management, the Indian government is actively engaged in the development of a critical mineral policy. Media reports indicate that this policy will establish a comprehensive framework for the sustainable exploration, extraction, and utilization of critical minerals within India. By formulating such a policy, the government aims to ensure the responsible and efficient management of critical minerals, taking into account environmental concerns and long-term resource availability.

Auction of mineral blocks

Under the MMDR Amendment Act, 2023, the Central Government has the authority to conduct auctions for blocks containing critical and strategic minerals.

Among the bidders for 20 critical mineral blocks in India’s first tranche auction held November 29, 2023 were major firms hailing from the mining, EV manufacturing, cement production, and energy sectors: Vedanta, Coal India, NLC India, Ola Electric, Jindal Power, and Dalmia Group, to name a few.

The mines ministry reportedly received over 50 bids for the blocks, which include minerals such as lithium, glauconite, nickel, PGE, potash, graphite, molybdenum, phosphorite, and rare earth elements. These blocks are located across Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and the Union Territory of J&K.

Minerals Security Partnership to achieve stable supply chains for critical minerals

The Minerals Security Partnership (MSP) is an international alliance led by the United States and focused on securing a stable supply of raw materials for participating economies. With a particular emphasis on energy minerals crucial for clean energy technologies, the MSP aims to establish robust supply chains to meet future demand.

The MSP’s primary objective is to maximize economic benefits by leveraging geological resources. It promotes the production, processing, and recycling of critical minerals while encouraging collaboration and mutual development among member countries. Through mineral exchanges and the sharing of production-related technologies, the MSP facilitates cooperation in the mineral sector.

The partnership serves as a catalyst for attracting investments from governments and the private sector, strategically harnessing opportunities throughout the value chain.

The MSP specifically focuses on analyzing supply chains for minerals, such as cobalt, nickel, lithium, and the 17 rare earth minerals, given their significance in various industries.

The MSP includes Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Commission.

India’s inclusion in the MSP: Advantages for electric mobility and electronics industries

India’s inclusion in the MSP brings it significant advantages, particularly considering its ambitious plans for electric mobility and the development of its electronics manufacturing and semiconductor industries.

As India aims to transition a substantial portion of its public and private transportation to EVs, ensuring a stable supply of critical minerals for EV batteries becomes crucial. The MSP provides an avenue for India to secure these minerals and support its clean energy transition.

Moreover, India’s focus on establishing its electronics manufacturing and semiconductor sectors necessitates access to advanced technologies for mineral exploration and extraction. By participating in the MSP, India can collaborate with member countries possessing expertise in these areas, enabling knowledge sharing and the adoption of advanced techniques.

(This article was originally published July 7, 2023. It was last updated April 17, 2024.)

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