China and Hong Kong are India’s biggest lithium battery suppliers

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India imported lithium cells and batteries – including rechargeable li-ion type devices – worth INR8,984 crore in the last fiscal year, according to Ministry of Mines statistics.

That figure consisted of INR173 crore of non-rechargeable lithium devices and INR8,811 crore of lithium-ion products.

China and Hong Kong were the chief sources of the imports with China shipping 72.73% of the lithium-ion products imported by India and 32.05% of the non-rechargeable lithium cell devices. Hong Kong products accounted for 23.48% and 37.32% of those, respective markets.

Indian lithium battery demand is expected to surge with the products used in renewable energy storage facilities and electric vehicles as well as data centers and consumer electronics.

The government wants to establish domestic battery manufacturing and has launched an INR18,100 crore production-linked incentive scheme to attempt to drive the deployment of factories capable of producing 50GWh worth of advanced chemistry battery cells. At the same time, the government is attempting to source lithium from nations such as Australia and Bolivia as well as searching for deposits of the raw material on home soil.

The Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research, part of government body the Department Atomic Energy, is searching for lithium in parts of the Mandya and Yadgir districts of Karnataka. Preliminary surveys have indicated the presence of around 1,600 tons of lithium in the Marlagalla area of Mandya.

The Ministry of Mines-based Geological Survey of India is also exploring for lithium and associated elements.

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