The Indian Express ran an excellent article this week on India’s efforts to develop a mineral strategy. The piece gives a broad overview on the global context of the critical mineral mining environment from an Indian perspective. It points out that China not only accounts for more than 90 percent of global REE supply, but is also among the top three producers of 10 out of the 12 “strategic minerals and metals” Indian planners have put into this category.
India’s first attempt at developing a cohesive mineral strategy centers around stockpiling, research and development, incentivizing by-product recovery, setting up a stakeholder network, and removing bureaucratic obstacles which are in large part to blame for India’s late start in the global resource game. As the Indian Express explains:
Lack of access to best-technology practices due to restrictive regimes, coupled with the larger problem of a protectionist environment that did not incentivise innovation, meant that critical strategic industries — nuclear, space, defence and communications — depended on high-technology imports which got progressively more difficult for largely non-economic reasons.
While overall circumstances may be different, unfortunately, part of this description rings all too familiar. Current attempts to make the U.S. a serious competitor in the global race for resources and to overhaul our own critical minerals strategy are up against similar “restrictive regimes” as the ones described by the Indian Express – an onerous regulatory framework to which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to add new layers, and a misguided “not-in-my-backyard” mentality. India is looking to correct its past mistakes – are we ready to do the same?