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India, Australia to collaborate on lithium and cobalt identification projects

April 25,2022
The Indian government-owned Khanij Bidesh India (KABIL) and Australia's Critical Minerals Facilitation Office (CMFO) have signed a detailed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a framework to collaborate on lithium and cobalt identification projects in Australia.
KABIL is a joint venture created by the Indian Ministry of Mines in 2019 between Indian public sector companies Aluminium Company (NALCO), Hindustan Copper Ltd. (HCL), and Mineral Exploration Company Ltd. (MECL). It was established to help India achieve self-reliance in the area of critical and strategic minerals.
The mandate of KABIL is to identify and acquire mineral assets of critical and strategic nature like lithium, cobalt, and others in overseas territories. CMFO operates under the Australian government's Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER).
The detailed MoU signed by KABIL and CMFO follows a government-to-government (G2G) pact signed by the Indian and the Australian governments in June 2020 for co-operating in the mining and processing of critical and strategic minerals. KABIL and CMFO have agreed to undertake joint due diligence on certain greenfield and brownfield projects for identifying lithium and cobalt mineral assets. After the identification, the parties plan to take final joint investment decisions and acquire the assets in Australia, which will serve the critical and strategic ecosystem of the two nations.
An initial investment of $6-mn has been committed by India and Australia for funding the joint due diligence process in a ratio of 50:50. According to the Indian Ministry of Mines, the MoU also allows any other central public sector enterprise (CPSE) as an investment partner in the asset acquisition process. The Ministry estimated a timeline of six months for the due diligence process and further investment decisions to be executed.