In this brief, Vaibhav Gupta and Karthik Ganesan have outlined the importance of minerals to India’s resource security, with a focus on non-fuel minerals which are crucial to India’s economy but have not been evaluated in detail as yet. The complete brief can be read here.
Minerals are indispensable in modern industrial activities; infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, as indeed all sectors of economy. However, non-fuel materials (minerals and metals) have so far not received the same attention as have oil and natural gas. Non-fuel minerals even while directly contributing to less than 2% of GDP (in the form of mined ores), are the backbone that supports 15% of GDP, through the manufacturing sector. This illustrates clearly that even with only 4% of India’s import bill, non-fuel minerals can have an equally large impact on the economy, as that of fuel minerals which contribute to nearly 16% of the country’s imports.
A wider acknowledgement of these critical non-fuel minerals and the resulting prioritisation accorded to mineral resource security would have numerous monetary and long term (strategic) advantages as listed below:
a) Assist Indian policymakers to strategically focus on areas where India needs to enact coherent policies and make smart investments (either for domestic mineral value addition and development, or stake in acquisitions abroad) to ensure uninterrupted mineral supply to the required industry.
b) Dedicated business friendly policies would encourage mining and mineral companies to increase their investments in India and bring in international best practices to a sector, which is almost entirely inwardly focused today. The increased mining activity could directly benefit the manufacturing sector.
c) Encourage research community to
i. Explore the options to substitute critical minerals in current and upcoming applications, and
ii. Conceptualise economically viable and environmentally friendly mineral beneficiation technologies, and technologies for extraction of secondary minerals from the by-products, which are currently discarded.
For more details: India’s Critical Mineral Resources – A Trade and Economic Analysis