As it seeks ways to become self-sufficient in terms of both renewable energy and green technology, the Indian government is set to revise legislation to allow the private sector to mine lithium.
As of press time, lawmakers are asked to consider amending relevant policies while parliament is in session. Specifically, pundits are calling for the removal of eight key minerals, including lithium and zirconium, from the list of materials that may not be produced by private corporations.
The removal of these elements from the list, as well as other revisions, are expected to enable the Indian government to auction off permits allowing private businesses to delve into local lithium reserves. The changes may also reduce Indian dependence on foreign imports of primary materials used in the production of rechargeable and eco-friendly batteries; the move may also put India in a better and more competitive position within the global EV battery sector.
At the moment, exploratory mining for lithium has been limited to the relevant government agencies. Indeed, state-sponsored initiatives led to the discovery of a small lithium cache in the southern state of Karnataka. However, suppose India plans to produce lithium on a more substantial scale and decrease its reliance on other nations. In that case, the country needs to put more effort into finding and developing deposits within its borders.
India is seen as one of the largest importers of lithium-ion batteries, and its total imports have risen to $1.83 billion as of March of this year, a 54% increase from its 2021 total. Around 87% of all batteries in the country are imported from either China and Hong Kong, but India hopes to significantly decrease the number in the near future.
Meanwhile, the country is also looking for lithium and cobalt assets in other nations. This resulted in a joint venture involving three state-run companies, namely Hindustan Copper Ltd., Mineral Exploration Corporations, and the National Aluminium Company. The venture seeks to acquire viable mines in foreign territories.
Aside from getting a stronger foothold in the lithium industry, India also plans to expand the local production of zero-emissions technologies to achieve its carbon neutrality goal by 2070. The said expansion is also expected to benefit from potential opportunities posed by the global shift towards renewable power.
The Indian government also pledged to build up to 500 gigawatts’ worth of clean power capacity by the end of the current decade, as well as large-scale battery storage units to ensure the sustainable use of renewable energy.