Steady domestic lithium supply may impact JVs, tech tie-ups: SUN Mobility CEO
Some of the lithium-based joint ventures and technical collaborations in India will feel the impact when the metal gets mined in the country and made available to those who need it, said Anant Badjatya, CEO, SUN Mobility.
The company is into automotive swappable batteries whereby the batteries are separated from the vehicle — just like the petrol/diesel vehicles.
Recently the Central government had said the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has for the first time established lithium inferred resources (G3) of 5.9 million tonnes in Salal-Haimana area of Reasi District of Jammu & Kashmir.
The lithium reserves found in Salal-Haimana area has given the Indian EV makers a high. It is now said this is the new IMFL — Indian Made Foreign Lithium — as the metal was largely imported.
The old IMFL stands for Indian Made Foreign Liquor.
Indian businesses may become less reliant on imported lithium and become competitive globally if there are consistent and affordable domestic lithium sources, Badjatya told IANS in an interview.
IANS: On the lithium reserves found in India?
Badjatya: The discovery of lithium reserves in India is welcome news and shall help in development of domestic lithium reserves to support the growth of the electric vehicle (EV) industry in India.
India is presently reliant on the imports of lithium and other raw materials to produce batteries because lithium is a crucial component of the batteries used in electric vehicles. Local availability of lithium may help the nation become less reliant on imports and encourage the expansion of the domestic EV market.
Keeping in mind the possible effects on nearby communities and ecosystems, it is crucial to make sure that any mining or extraction of lithium is done in a way that is socially and environmentally responsible.
IANS: In your estimation, how long would it take for mining lithium in India?
Badjatya: In my opinion there are several variables that contribute to determining the time it takes for gainful mining of lithium. While it is encouraging news, we must also remember that it took us close to two decades to move from the ‘reconnaissance’ stage, aka the G4 stage, where an area is studied and mapped, to the ‘prospecting’ or the G3 stage, where we are today.
The next two stages, G2 (general exploration) and G1 (detailed exploration), range from further studying the mineral’s shape, size, and grade to ascertaining characteristics of the deposits with complete accuracy. This process normally can take up to close to a decade but can surely be reduced if we work with a mission like zeal and do a disciplined time-based execution.
The location and size of the reserves, environmental approvals, R&R (resettlement and rehabilitation) if applicable, availability of infrastructure and resources, and governmental approvals are some of the other variables. Investment in facilities for processing and refining raw lithium into battery-grade material would be necessary for the growth of a domestic lithium sector in addition to mining.
IANS: What does the finding of lithium reserves mean for Indian industries?
Badjatya: India’s industries, especially those engaged in the production and supply of batteries for electric vehicles, stand to gain considerably from the discovery of lithium reserves. The majority of contemporary EVs use lithium-ion batteries, which are also used in other electronic devices like laptops and smartphones. Lithium is a crucial raw element in the production of these batteries.
Presently, lithium and other raw materials are imported into India in large quantities to manufacture batteries, which are expensive for local businesses. Domestic availability of lithium may help the nation become less reliant on imports and encourage the expansion of the domestic EV industry and other sectors that use lithium.
The discovery of lithium reserves may also have wider economic advantages, such as increased investment and job creation in the mining and processing sectors. It’s crucial though to make sure that mining or extraction activities are carried out sustainably and responsibly, taking into consideration potential negative effects on the environment and society.
Overall, India’s industries will benefit from the finding of lithium reserves, which may also aid in the country’s transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy.
IANS: What does it mean for your company? Will it result in a reduction in product prices? If yes, by how much?
Badjatya: The discovery of lithium reserves in India will benefit SUN Mobility, as all other things being equal it could reduce the cost of lithium in battery production. It is crucial to remember, though, that SUN Mobility and other EV industry companies’ product prices are determined by various factors, including the cost of raw materials, manufacturing and production costs, research and development expenses, and market demand.
IANS: If lithium is mined and made available in the country, will there be any reduction in global prices? If yes, to what extent? What is the current rate?
Badjatya: Since it relies on a number of variables, including the size and quality of the lithium deposits, the cost of production, and the demand for lithium worldwide, it is difficult to estimate the potential effect of domestic lithium production in India on global lithium prices.
Depending on the lithium type and the market’s location, the price of lithium today differs globally. The price for lithium carbonate was about $80 per kg in 2022. Prices can differ significantly based on the state of the market, patterns of supply and demand, etc. It is also important to keep in mind that there are several other variables besides lithium prices that affect the price of EVs and lithium-ion batteries. Product prices can also be significantly impacted by other elements like manufacturing costs, R&D expenditures, and government incentives and restrictions.
The discovery is encouraging and could potentially reduce the nation’s reliance on imports and support the development of the domestic EV industry.
IANS: In case lithium is available in India, will there be any redrawing of joint venture, technical collaboration agreements by the Indian companies?
Badjatya: This could surely have an impact on the joint ventures and technical collaboration agreements between Indian companies and their foreign partners in the EV and battery industries. Indian businesses may become less reliant on imported lithium and become more competitive in the international market if they can find consistent and affordable domestic lithium sources.
It’s crucial to remember, though, that agreements for joint ventures and technological collaboration are frequently influenced by things other than raw material access, like knowledge transfer, market access, and strategic alliances. All this process will require technology development and because we do not have this in India at the moment, we will have to acquire this technology from other countries. Therefore, major changes to these agreements may not immediately follow from merely the availability of domestic lithium.
Source : IANS