India has bought exploration and production rights to lithium blocks in Argentina in its first such overseas deal, aimed to reduce dependency on China for the key green technology metal.

Coal and Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi said the "historic" $24 million deal will ensure a "resilient and diversified supply chain for critical and strategic materials".

Lithium is a key component in batteries for energy storage and electric vehicles.

India is one of the world's top greenhouse gas emitters, but is also pushing its production of electric vehicles and has vowed to become carbon neutral by 2070.

The world's fastest-growing major economy, India imported $33 million worth of lithium in 2022-2023, according to government figures.

More than two-thirds was imported from China.

"The project will help India strengthen lithium supplies, while developing lithium mining and downstream sectors," Joshi said on X in comments late Monday.

Argentina, along with Chile and Bolivia, together form what analysts call the "lithium triangle", a region that experts estimate holds more than half of global lithium resources.

The five-block deal was signed between state-owned Khanij Bidesh India and Argentina's state-owned Camyen SE in the Catamarca province, the source of some of Argentina's largest lithium deposits.

India last year found its first lithium deposits in Jammu and Kashmir, with estimated reserves of 5.9 million tonnes.