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PIB Summaries 30 April 2024

  1. Exoskeleton
  2. Critical Minerals


Bengaluru hosted the inaugural international workshop on ‘Emerging Technologies & Challenges for Exoskeleton’ organised by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) on 15th April 2024.


GS III: Science and Technology

Introduction to Exoskeletons:

  • Exoskeletons are wearable devices designed to enhance fundamental human actions, utilized across various fields including Medical, Military, Rescue Operations, Industrial, and Consumer uses.

Medical Applications:

  • In the medical field, exoskeletons aid in occupational therapy, augmentation, and rehabilitation medicine, assisting individuals recovering from accidents to regain normal function.
  • Paediatric exoskeletons cater to children with mobility issues like spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, muscle atrophy, and muscular dystrophy.

Industrial Uses:

  • Exoskeletons find applications in industries where workers perform repetitive tasks such as paint spraying, welding, and assembly line material handling.
  • They help reduce physical strain and enhance productivity by providing support and assistance during strenuous tasks.

Military Utilization:

  • Military personnel benefit from exoskeletons as they alleviate physical strain and augment strength, particularly useful for long-distance walking and carrying heavy loads.
  • Exoskeletons enhance soldiers’ capabilities and endurance, improving operational effectiveness in challenging environments.

Rescue Operations:

  • Exoskeletons aid pre-fighters and rescue workers in surviving hazardous environments, providing support and protection against physical exertion and injuries.
  • These devices enable individuals to navigate through dangerous conditions more effectively, enhancing their overall safety and efficiency.


The ‘Critical Minerals Summit: Enhancing Beneficiation and Processing Capabilities’ commenced at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. 


GS III- Indian Economy

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are Critical Minerals?
  2. Why is this resource critical?
  3. What is China ‘threat’?
  4. What are countries around the world doing about it?

What are Critical Minerals?

  • Critical minerals are elements that are the building blocks of essential modern-day technologies, and are at risk of supply chain disruptions.
  • These minerals are now used everywhere from making mobile phones, computers to batteries, electric vehicles and green technologies like solar panels and wind turbines.
  • Based on their individual needs and strategic considerations, different countries create their own lists.
  • However, such lists mostly include graphite, lithium and cobalt, which are used for making EV batteries; rare earths that are used for making magnets and silicon which is a key mineral for making computer chips and solar panels.
  • Aerospace, communications and defence industries also rely on several such minerals as they are used in manufacturing fighter jets, drones, radio sets and other critical equipment.

Why is this resource critical?

  • As countries around the world scale up their transition towards clean energy and digital economy, these critical resources are key to the ecosystem that fuels this change.
  • Any supply shock can severely imperil the economy and strategic autonomy of a country over-dependent on others to procure critical minerals.
  • But these supply risks exist due to rare availability, growing demand and complex processing value chain.
  • Many times the complex supply chain can be disrupted by hostile regimes, or due to politically unstable regions.
  • They are critical as the world is fast shifting from a fossil fuel-intensive to a mineral-intensive energy system.

What is China ‘threat’?

  • China is the world’s largest producer of 16 critical minerals.
  • China alone is responsible for some 70% and 60% of global production of cobalt and rare earth elements, respectively, in 2019.
  • The level of concentration is even higher for processing operations, where China has a strong presence across the board.
  • China’s share of refining is around 35% for nickel, 50-70% for lithium and cobalt, and nearly 90% for rare earth elements.
  • It also controls cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, from where 70% of this mineral is sourced.
  • In 2010, China suspended rare earth exports to Japan for two months over a territorial dispute.

What are countries around the world doing about it?

  • US has shifted its focus on expanding domestic mining, production, processing, and recycling of critical minerals and materials.
  • India has set up KABIL or the Khanij Bidesh India Limited, a joint venture of three public sector companies, to “ensure a consistent supply of critical and strategic minerals to the Indian domestic market”.
  • Australia’s Critical Minerals Facilitation Office (CMFO) and KABIL had recently signed an MoU aimed at ensuring reliable supply of critical minerals to India.
  • The UK has unveiled its new Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre to study the future demand for and supply of these minerals.

May 2024