The government doesn’t want permission to change laws that allow private companies to extract lithium, the key raw material for EV batteries.
India is trying to change laws to allow private miners to mine lithium, the key ingredient in batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage, as the country strives to become more self-sufficient in green technologies.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government wants lawmakers’ approval of changes to existing policy in the current parliamentary session, according to people familiar with the plans. Eight minerals, including lithium, beryllium and zirconium, will be removed from a restricted list that currently prohibits production by private companies.
The changes would allow the government to auction permits to exploit lithium reserves, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is not yet public. They also aim to reduce India’s dependency on imports for some key minerals and put the country in a better position to compete in the lucrative battery supply chain, according to the people.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Mines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
India is looking to add local manufacturing of a range of zero-emission technologies as it aims to become carbon neutral by 2070 and capitalize on opportunities from the global clean energy transition. The nation has pledged to build 500 gigawatts of clean power capacity by 2030, and the deployment of massive amounts of battery storage is seen as essential to enable 24/7 renewable energy deployment.
Government agencies have been searching for lithium and have discovered a small resource at a site in the southern state of Karnataka, according to the Ministry of Mines. However, in order to produce lithium on a significant scale and reduce dependence on imports, India would need to find and develop more deposits.
Australia and Chile currently dominate commodity production, while China is the world’s largest refiner.
India’s imports Lithium-ion battery sales rose 54% year over year to $1.83 billion in the year to March, Commerce Department data showed. Almost 87% of purchases came from China and Hong Kong, despite India’s efforts to avoid imports from its northern neighbor
In addition to efforts to increase local production, the country is also looking for lithium and cobalt facilities abroad. With three state-owned companies – National Aluminum Co., Hindustan Copper Ltd. and Mineral Exploration Corp. – a joint venture was established to acquire mines abroad.
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