Experts have suggested that as part of Make in India Programme, the government should strive to set up R&D and technology development centres for indigenous lithium ion battery manufacturing plants, which is crucial to India’s ambitions of achieving energy security.
Ahead of high levels visits to and from ‘Lithium Triangle’ in South America — comprising Chile, Argentina and Bolivia, delegation from Khanij Bidesh India Ltd., (KABIL) consortium of three PSU companies including : National Aluminum Company (NALCO), Hindustan Copper (HCL) and Mineral Exploration Corp Ltd., (MECL) visited these countries recently. India is in the process of setting up large lithium-ion battery plants, the Lithium Triangle countries have offered to meet India’s growing demand.
The Consortium that has been formed by the Ministry of Mines, Government of India, for identifying, exploring, acquiring, developing and processing strategic minerals overseas. India has set a target on achieving an all-electric car fleet by 2030, and has in the recent years started reaching out to the ‘Lithium Triangle’ in South America. Sources confirmed that Dr Ranji Rath, CMD, MECL, SK Patnaik, DGM (Mines) NALCO and Amit Degvekar, Sr Manager, HCL, of KABIL Joint Venture visited Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.
As was reported by the Financial Express Online in January, in an exclusive interaction Daniel Chuburu, ambassador of Argentina to India had said that “Before the visit of President Mauricio Marci, a delegation of Khanij Bidesh India Ltd. will be visiting Argentina end of next month for exploration opportunities in the mining of Lithium.”
As has been reported earlier, New Delhi will be hosting the President of Argentina Mauricio Macri, who will be arriving here on a three day visit on Feb 17, and discussion on Lithium mining will be on the agenda of talks.
Sources have confirmed that in Bolivia, both President Kovind and the President of Bolivia Evo Morales and in talks with President of Chile Sebastián Piñera, the focus will be on enhancing cooperation in various fields including Lithium exploration and infrastructure, trade, investments, space, agriculture and military cooperation.
Almost 100% of Li-ion batteries or cells are imported. These batteries are commonly used in portable electronic devices, solar power plants as well as electric vehicles due to their high energy density and high charge and discharge rate capabilities, as compared with other type of batteries such as Ni-MH or Lead Acid.
Bolivia, the landlocked country has vast reserves of natural gas, and is largely dependent on natural gas and mineral exports, is seeking Indian capital to invest in developing Bolivia’s massive lithium deposits, which account for 60% of the world’s reserves.
The former ambassador of Bolivia to India Sergio Arispe Barrientos had told Financial Express Online that, “With the largest lithium reserves in the world, Bolivia can partner with India in its electric vehicle park projects. The delegation from KABIL visited the Uyuni Salt Flats and had a tour of the existing infrastructure and future sites. The delegation also had meetings with the Minister of Energy.”
Estimates indicate that Bolivia has the world’s largest deposits of Lithium in the Salar de Uyuni. Some studies indicate that Salar de Uyuni has 140 million tonnes of Lithium. Experts have suggested that as part of Make in India Programme, the government should strive to set up R&D and technology development centres for indigenous lithium ion battery manufacturing plants, which is crucial to India’s ambitions of achieving energy security.
About President Kovind’s visit to Bolivia, Barrientos said, “The visit demonstrates a proactive and aggressive stance to secure lithium sourcing in view of a highly anticipated EV and energy storage polices.”
Adding, “This is the first major step of the Indian government to secure a key commodity in response to the Chinese geopolitical strategy of capturing key minerals.”
Argentina too has approached Indian government and companies to invest in lithium mines in the South American nation. Chile is the current major producer; but deposits of Lithium are found in entire Andes region.
As reported earlier, according to diplomats of both Chile and Argentina “there are lots of possibilities for cooperation with India as all are part of the Solar Alliance and Lithium is big in the region and can be exported to India.”