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Modi govt’s green push spurs 120% mining stock frenzy in India

MUMBAI: The hunt for stock winners in the global race for green transition-linked minerals has found a new target: India’s miners.
Shares of metals producers have outperformed local equity benchmarks this year on hopes that the firms will play a potential role in the country’s green agenda following the discovery of lithium deposits in the north. That frenzy has boosted companies like Gujarat Mineral Development Corp, which has soared more than 120%, as well as peer Hindustan Copper Ltd, which is up about 40%.
Increased appetite for all things linked to the manufacturing of electric-vehicle batteries and other renewables equipment has been a boon for many markets. But in Asia’s third-largest economy, investors are betting those gains have further room to run thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal to reach net zero emissions by 2070.
India’s push to become self-reliant in a field dominated by a handful of countries including China, with which it has an active border dispute, may also boost local shares. India spends $20 billion on critical mineral imports every year, according to the Confederation of Indian Industry.
How long the gains last remains to be seen, however. Similar rallies in South Korea, China and Australia have resulted in losses, not least because of a slump in prices of minerals from lithium to nickel. In India, there are doubts over the quantity of minerals that can be mined from recently-discovered deposits and infrastructure quality. That’s contributed to a recent cooling in shares.
India’s refining industry also faces competition from China, Korea and Japan, and requires government subsidies to become profitable, said Mohsen Crofts, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.
“The critical question to ask about these reserves is what is the value of the assets and how profitable they can be in terms of exploiting them.”
Still, that hasn’t deterred some companies from pressing forward. Gujarat Mineral is eyeing a foothold after announcing plans to foray into the mining and processing of rare-earth elements. It’s also looking to produce cobalt, a material used in the wind energy sector, from its coal mines.
Meanwhile, NMDC Ltd is scouring for lithium deposits in Australia, while a three-way venture of Hindustan Copper, National Aluminium Co and Mineral Exploration & Consultancy Ltd is reported to be in fray for similar mines in Argentina. Integration in the green energy transition process has seen shares of such miners outperform the S&P BSE Sensex Index by as much as five times this year.

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