Weekly Current Affairs

India to run short of high-tech minerals [Infrastructure]

  • India will be woefully short of critical minerals necessary for developing clean- energy applications, infrastructure for its solar mission and for manufacturing high-technology products in the future.
  • The country will be heavily dependent on China in the coming years to source these materials for its manufacturing sector, says a report commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology.
  • 12 minerals out of 49 that were evaluated as ‘most critical’ for India’s manufacturing sector by 2030. These are beryllium, chromium, germanium, limestone, niobium, graphite, rare earths, rhenium, strontium, tantalum and zirconium.
  • Other minerals like limestone and graphite, while currently abundantly available in India, are deemed ‘critical’ because extractable resources could be scarce in the future.
  • India is 100 per cent import-dependent for seven out of 12 identifi ed critical minerals and does not have any declared resources for them, except light rare- earths (found along with monazite sands) and beryllium.
  • Rare earths are a group of 17 minerals necessary for making everything from nuclear reactors to fl at-screen televisions, and, China currently controls 94 per cent of their global supply.
  • India, therefore, will need to fi rm up diplomatic trade channels and long-term supply contracts.
  • Manufacturing contributes 17-18% of India’s economy, though this is currently dominated by low-value industries.
  • The pricey minerals are used in industries and sectors such as aerospace, automobiles, cameras, defence, entertainment systems, laptops, medical imaging, nuclear energy, and smartphones, and, China is currently a leading global supplier for six out of the 12 mineral resources identifi ed as critical for India by 2030.
  • Though India is endowed with vast mineral resources — it is among the top fi ve nations with reserves of rare-earth minerals — its potential is untapped
  • The CEEW study comes on the heels of the National Mineral Exploration Policy, 2016 (NMEP).