India is seeking to change laws to allow private miners to extract lithium, a key component for electric vehicles and batteries used for energy storage, as the nation aims to become more self-reliant in green technologies .
According to people familiar with the plans, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is seeking MPs’ approval to amend existing policies in the current session of Parliament. Eight minerals, including lithium, beryllium and zirconium, will be removed from the banned list, which currently restricts production by private companies.
The change would allow the government to auction permits to exploit the lithium reserves, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is not yet public. Their aim is to reduce India’s dependence on imports for certain key minerals and to put the country in a better position to compete in the lucrative battery supply chain, according to the people.
A Mines Ministry spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
India seeks to combine local manufacturing of a slew of zero-emission technologies while pursuing the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2070 and capturing the opportunities of clean energy in the global transition. The nation has pledged to build up to 500 gigawatts of clean electricity capacity by 2030, and the deployment of large amounts of battery storage is seen as critical to enabling round-the-clock use of renewable energy.
According to the Ministry of Mines, government agencies are exploring lithium and have discovered a small resource at a site in southern Karnataka state. Still, to produce lithium on any meaningful scale and reduce dependence on imports, India will need to find and develop more deposits.
Australia and Chile currently dominate the production of raw materials, while China is the world’s largest refiner.
India’s lithium-ion batteries grew 54% from a year earlier to $1.83 billion in the year ended March, trade ministry data shows. Despite India’s efforts to wean away imports from its northern neighbour, about 87 per cent of purchases came from China and Hong Kong.
In addition to attempting to boost local production, the country is also looking for lithium and cobalt assets overseas. A joint venture has been formed with three state companies – National Aluminum Company, Hindustan Copper Limited and Mineral Exploration Corp – to acquire mines abroad.
“This policy change aims to reduce import dependence, although apart from some recent small discoveries in Karnataka, India has no known reserves of lithium”, said Debashish Mishra, Mumbai-based partner of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, adding that the aim is to private To promote exploration and mining activities by attracting participation. “This is a welcome move, but it will also require more encouragement and encouragement from the government.”