Home Asia Mongolia Could Supply India Coking Coal, Copper And Strategic Rare Earths

Mongolia Could Supply India Coking Coal, Copper And Strategic Rare Earths


India is looking to source coking coal and critical minerals like copper and rare earths from Mongolia.  A report in The Hindu Businessline said joint working groups have been set up with the Mongolian embassy for the purpose.

Mongolia has around seven billion tonnes of coking coal reserves, among the world’s largest. It is a key feedstock in steelmaking and India, as the largest steel maker globally, is dependent on Australia, Russia and the US for supplies. If Mongolia steps in, it will help India diversify its sources.

The Businessline report said Mongolia was building a washing station for coking coal that should be ready for operations later this year.

The country could be another source for copper (reserves of 35 million tonnes), also rare earths (estimated reserves 31 million tonnes), but the larger concern is how to get the minerals out of the country once they are mined.

The report quoted an unnamed official as saying “We are looking for ways to collaborate with Mongolia but then the mandate is also to avoid dealing with China directly. Work is on with the JWG to discuss alternatives.”

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Mongolia is landlocked and shares borders with only two countries Russia and China. The report said India is clear about not transporting the minerals through China and would prefer routing it through Russia.

For this purpose, a consortium of state-run firms could come together and work out the transportation modalities.

Mongolia reportedly has access to Vladivostock Port in Russia’s Far East and Delhi and Moscow are keen on operationalizing the Vladivostock to Chennai shipping route.

Then there’s the International North South Transport Corridor stretching over 7000 km through the Caucasus and Central Asia, which touches Chahbahar Port in Iran.

There’s also the Russia-Mongolia-China Economic Corridor which could be tapped but, as mentioned earlier, India would rather avoid transporting strategic minerals through China.