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Major Indian companies gate crash into  mineral mining in Sri  Lanka 

May 22, Colombo (LNW):Major Indian companies are to enter critical mineral mining in Sri Lanka taking advantage of the new national policy on mineral resources aimed at attracting foreign investors and/or technology holders to establish joint ventures with Sri Lankan partners

Moreover, India and Pakistan have been provided market access to the mineral deposits with duty concession under Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISLFTA) and Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (PSLFTA) with 100 percent duty free for any machinery related to the business.

Several overseas companies mainly India and Australia have applied for mining licenses after the change in awarding criteria, State Investment Minister Dilum Amunugama disclosed. 

Measures have been taken to promote foreign and local investment in the country’s mineral resources sector to enhance revenues, he said adding that the previous procedure of issuing mineral mining licences has been tainted with corruption. 

The Geological Survey and Mines Bureau (GSMB) is drafting necessary policy and regulatory changes to sell the valuable mineral deposit to foreign companies for mineral explorations.

The new regulation gazetted under number 2313/37 in January 2023 and under 9(e) the mineral rights of the state have been changed by giving priority to the landowner to explore minerals or sell it to another party for exploration.

This sudden decision to promote widespread mining with foreign investment, may lead to unsustainable consequences, several environmentalists said. 

Several Indian companies including Ola Electric, Hindalco Industries, and Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation are exploring the prospects of graphite mining in Sri Lanka, informed sources said. 

Sri Lanka is the only country to mine ultra-pure highly crystalline vein graphite with more than 98 percent of carbon purity in the world over the last 100+ years, and it is world renowned for its superior quality and uniqueness.

Graphite is a critical mineral that is extensively used as the anode material in lithium-ion batteries dor electric vehicles. 

The country has exported around 2,500 tonnes of graphite in 2023 valuing at around US $6 million. Sri Lanka has graphite reserves of around 1.3 million tonnes, GSMB data showed. 

Sri Lanka is exploring the optimal utilisation of its mineral resources to boost the nation’s economic growth, and the potential for creating value-added products from these resources, State Minister Dilum Amunugama said. 

According to the Board of Investment (BOI)  data, Sri Lanka possessed 7.5 million metric tons (MT) of Ilmanite/Rutile/Zircon deposits in both Eastern coastal town of Pulmudai in Trincomalee district and Puttalam which also has 45,000 MT of graphite, and 60 million MT of Apatite.  

Sri Lanka exports the minerals to the United States, United Kingdom, China, India, and Pakistan. The island nation earns around $30 million annually with 200,000 mt of production, BOI data showed

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