Coal and Mining Sector

What are Critical Minerals?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Critical Minerals

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • India is looking for cobalt and other critical minerals in Zambia, Namibia, Congo, Ghana and Mozambique. It is still engaging with Australia for lithium blocks.
  • Critical minerals, including lithium and cobalt, are crucial for technology, manufacturing and other industries.

What are Critical Minerals?

  • Critical minerals are elements that are crucial to modern-day technologies and are at risk of supply chain disruptions.
  • These minerals are mostly used in making electronic equipment such as mobile phones, computers, batteries, electric vehicles, and green technologies like solar panels and wind turbines.
  • Many of these are required to meet the manufacturing needs of green technologies, high-tech equipment, aviation, and national defence.

List of critical minerals includes:

The centre has released a list of 30 critical minerals for India in 2023:

  1. Identified Minerals: Antimony, Beryllium, Bismuth, Cobalt, Copper, Gallium, Germanium, Graphite, Hafnium, Indium, Lithium, Molybdenum, Niobium, Nickel, Platinum Group elements (PGE), Phosphorous, Potash, Rare Earth Elements (REE), Rhenium, Silicon, Strontium, Tantalum, Tellurium, Tin, Titanium, Tungsten, Vanadium, Zirconium, Selenium and Cadmium.
  2. Fertilizer Minerals: Two minerals critical for fertilizer production, phosphorous and potash, are also included in the above list.

Critical Mineral Blocks in India

  • Distribution: There are 20 blocks spread across eight states, including Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Types of Licenses: Four blocks are for a Mining License (ML), allowing immediate mining post-clearance. The remaining 16 blocks are for a Composite License (CL), permitting further exploration before potentially converting to an ML.
  • Approvals Required: Licensees must obtain various approvals, including forest clearance and environmental clearance.
  • Forest Land: Approximately 17% of the total concession area, or 1,234 hectares, is forest land.

India’s Critical Mineral Imports

  • Lithium Imports: In FY23, India imported 2,145 tonnes of lithium carbonate and lithium oxide, costing Rs 732 crore.
  • Nickel and Copper Imports: The country imported 32,000 tonnes of unwrought nickel and 1.2 million tonnes of copper ore, costing Rs 6,549 crore and Rs 27,374 crore, respectively.
  • Import Dependence: India relies entirely on imports for lithium and nickel, and 93% for copper.

Country-wise dependence:

  1. China: India heavily relies on China for the import of critical minerals like lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite.
  2. Australia: India is actively engaged with Australia for acquiring mineral assets, particularly lithium and cobalt, to secure its supply chain for critical minerals.
  3. Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile: India is engaging with these countries, known for their reserves of battery metals like lithium and cobalt, to diversify its sources for critical minerals.



2019: With reference to the management of minor minerals in India, consider the following statements:

  1. Sand is a ‘minor mineral’ according to the prevailing law in the country.
  2. State governments have the power to grant mining leases of minor minerals, but the powers regarding the formation of rules related to the grant of minor minerals lie with the Central Government.
  3. State Governments have the power to frame rules to prevent illegal mining of minor minerals.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 3
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3


Practice MCQ:

Consider the following statements:

  1. Critical minerals are those elements which are crucial to modern-day technologies and are at risk of supply chain disruptions.
  2. India has notified 30 elements in the Critical Minerals List.
  3. Fertilizer minerals Phosphorous and potash are also included in the Critical Minerals List.

How many of the given statements is/are correct?

  1. One
  2. Two
  3. Three
  4. None

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch