Tata Chemicals Ltd is looking at business opportunities related to the exploration and import of lithium from Bolivia to India and possibly to other countries where the company operates.
According to a recent Livemint report team of senior executives from the company recently visited the South American nation, which has the largest deposits of lithium in the world, and held meetings with government officials there.
One of India’s largest Indian manufacturers of chemical, crop nutrition and consumer products, Tata Chemicals’ interest in lithium is guided by the fact lithium and cobalt are the two most important commodities needed to develop batteries for electric vehicles (EVs), the thrust vehicles for automobile manufacturers in India and across the world.
At present a lithium-ion battery accounts for 40 percent of the total cost of an electric vehicle.
Lithium has other uses such as in mobile phone batteries and solar panels.
According to the first of the two people mentioned above, this can be a great opportunity for Tata Chemicals as demand for lithium will only increase in the coming years in the domestic market and globally.
Bolivia has the capacity to supply 15,000 tonnes of lithium per annum, which is far short of the global demand for the mineral. Currently, most of the lithium exploration is done by Bolivia’s state-owned companies along with Chinese ones.
The Union government in India is focused on promoting electric and hybrid vehicles in the years to come, and vehicle makers such as Suzuki Motor Corp. have already announced its plans to manufacture lithium-ion battery for electric vehicles.
According to experts, the biggest hindrance to the adoption of electric mobility in India and across the globe is the scarcity of lithium.
Apart from the auto industry, most of the mobile handset manufacturers have plans to manufacture their handsets in India, which would also require lithium.