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As Part of Growing Resource Nationalism Trend, India Joins Ranks of Countries Considering Export Restrictions

Against the backdrop of surging demand in the context of the green energy transition and rising geopolitical tensions, India recently stepped up its critical mineral resource policy game.

Along with releasing a comprehensive Critical Minerals List, consisting of 30 metals and minerals considered critical for India’s clean technology goals, the country’s government announced its joining of the Mineral Security Partnership, a partnership between the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea and several other countries convened in June 2022 as an initiative to bolster supply chains while aiming “to ensure that critical minerals are produced, processed, and recycled in a manner that supports countries in realizing the full economic development potential of their mineral resources.”

Now, as reported by India’s news media, the country is considering an export ban on four key metals – lithium, beryllium, niobium, and tantalum.

According to government officials, the move is a strategic decision, aimed at ensuring the country’s self-sufficiency in crucial minerals for India’s national security and technological advancements.

The announcement comes within weeks of the Indian Parliament approving a Mines and Minerals bill allowing private exploration and mining for the first time for six minerals, including the four referenced above.

Export controls are gaining in popularity as the global race for resources heats up.

Earlier this summer, China announced export restrictions on gallium and germanium, followed by controls on certain drones and drone-related equipment.

Zimbabwe banned lithium ore exports last December, and Namibia recently banned the export of unprocessed lithium and other critical minerals.

All these announcement tie into a larger trend, which has been noticeable particularly in Latin America, a region with a historic penchant for nationalism, but also elsewhere.

ARPN has featured recent nationalist moves in Chile, Mexico and Bolivia, as well as in Myanmar, Indonesia, and China, and has showcased that even in the Western world, government involvement in the critical minerals sector is on the rise.

As such, announcements like the one made by India’s government should hardly come as a surprise, but they also serve as as another reminder, as we’ve stated elsewhere, that as the U.S. and the rest of the West continue the quest to decouple from China, we will have to carefully balance domestic and global policy approaches — as well as public and private sector roles with economic and security concerns to reflect the geopolitical realities of our times.

And, as followers of ARPN well know, this can be best achieved within the context of a comprehensive all-of-the-above approach that focuses on domestic resource development where possible and leverages partnerships where needed.