India’s sole producer of Rare Earth Elements (REE) announced that it aims to boost mining capacity by 400% over the next decade to make the nation’s REE industry more competitive.
State-owned Indian Rare Earths Limited (IREL) is currently the only producer of Rare Earth Elements (REE) in the 1.3 billion people country. To decrease the nation’s dependency on neighboring China, IREL plans to boost its mining capacity by 400% over the next decade.
IREL Chairman Deependra Singh explained the venture in an interview with Bloomberg (Paywall): “The non-availability of these materials could hold back India from achieving its clean energy goals.” Singh hence urges authorities to quickly greenlight IREL’s newly planned mines. The company operates eight mines across the Indian states of Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala and has multiple new mines planned. The dependency on China in the supply of REEs is a major concern globally, not only in India.
The announcement comes just after researchers from the Hyderabad-based National Geophysical Research Institute discovered extensive deposits of 15 REEs in India’s state of Andhra Pradesh, Times of India reported last week. India’s REE industry faces multiple problems however: Compared to China, India’s ore grades are often 100 times lower, increasing the costs and requirements of refining and processing. Additionally, the Asian country lacks mid- and downstream infrastructure for further production.
Combined with the recent discovery of significant lithium deposits we reported about earlier this year, the increase of REE production sets India on the trajectory to realize the nation’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2070: While Lithium is a key component to produce batteries for electric vehicles, REEs are crucial for other components of EVs such as motors. Besides electromobility, REEs are also essential elements of wind turbines and thus vital for the transition toward clean energy. According to the Indian government, the country aims to boost renewable energy generation to 500 GW from a current output of 120 GW by 2030 while meeting 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energies.