India gets access to Bolivia’s lithium for EV batteries

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India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bolivia for development and industrial use of lithium—a prime component used in batteries for electric vehicles.

A statement, issued during the recent Bolivia visit of India’s President Ram Nath Kovind, said: “Both the countries agreed to forge mutually beneficial partnership to facilitate Bolivian supplies of lithium carbonate to India and foster joint ventures for lithium battery/cell production plants in India.”

As per the US Geological Survey, salt flats in the highlands of the Salar de Uyuni alone contain nine million tonnes of lithium—over a quarter of the world’s known deposits.

This partnership will make Bolivia one of the major providers of lithium for India’s e-mobility and e-storage needs.

The two countries have also agreed to facilitate mechanisms for the commercialization of lithium carbonate and potassium chloride produced in Bolivia by Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos Corporación (YLB – Corporación), the statement added.

Further, India has proposed a follow-up visit to Bolivia by a delegation from National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage of India for taking forward the cooperation in the area of battery storage solutions.

The two countries agreed that the recent visit of a delegation from Khanij Bidesh India Limited, a joint venture of three mining public sector units, under the Ministry of Mines of India, to lithium mining areas and other facilities in the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia would help create concrete collaboration in this area particularly given India’s objective to have at least 30% of its vehicles run on electric batteries by 2030.

Significantly, as India looks to set up large lithium-ion battery plants, the Lithium Triangle countries in South America (comprising Chile, Argentina and Bolivia) have offered to meet India’s growing demand for lithium.

KABIL is a consortium of three public sector companies including National Aluminum Company (NALCO), Hindustan Copper Ltd (HCL) and Mineral Exploration Corp Ltd (MECL). It has been formed by the Ministry of Mines, Government of India, to identify, explore, acquire, develop and process strategic minerals overseas.