UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis | Critical Challenge | US – led Mineral Alliance | 6th August, 2022

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What the article is about:
  • The article talks about recently formed US -led mineral alliance and possible reasons for India’s exclusion from it.
 
Relevance:
  • GS1: Distribution of key Natural Resources 
  • GS2: International treaties and agreements, Government policies and interventions, groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s Interests.
 
Analysis:
  • Newly formalised Critical Mineral Alliance has caused unease amongst policymakers in New Delhi.
Member Nations: 
  • Canada, Australia, Finland, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, the UK and the European Commission.
 
Objectives of the alliance: 
  • Intends to reduce the dependence of member nations on China for the supply of Cobalt, Nickel, Lithium and the 17 rare earth minerals.
 
Rare earth minerals:
  •  The rare earth elements (REE) are a set of seventeen metallic elements. These include the fifteen lanthanides on the periodic table plus scandium and yttrium.
  • Because of their geochemical properties, rare earth elements are typically dispersed. This means they are not often found in concentrated enough clusters to make them viable to mine. It was the scarcity of these minerals that led to them being called rare earths.
 
Uses of rare earth minerals:
  • Critical minerals are essential components of several modern-day appliances including smartphones and computers.
  • They are building blocks of green technologies like solar panel and wind turbines and are indispensable for the transition to electric battery-driven cars.
 
Why the alliance was required:
  • Intends to reduce dependence on china, as china doesn’t just dominate supplies, it also has a head start of close to 25 years over other countries in developing skills required for exploring and processing critical minerals.
 
What is the possible reason for India’s exclusion:
  • Country’s skill development programme hasn’t built expertise in this emerging field.
  • Industry watchers believe that Human Resource deficit in an important reason for India’s exclusion from this partnership.
 
What India needs to do in order to develop capabilities:
  • Courses in IITs and several others institutes needs upgrading.
  • Several new courses should be initiated to meet the challenges of the new knowledge economy.

 



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