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The finding of lithium reserves in India will open up many opportunities though the actual realisation of the mined resource may take some years, said M.A.M. Arunachalam, also known as Arun Murugappan, Executive Chairman of multi-product company Tube Investments of India Ltd (TII).
The Indian government recently announced that it has found lithium inferred resources of 5.9 million tonnes in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir.
He said India should utilise its natural resource even though some had said the country should skip the lithium battery mode and go for other technologies like fuel cell. As per published reports, India at present imports lithium worth close to $20.64 million a year.
The flagship company of the Chennai-based conglomerate Rs 547 billion Murugappa group, TII, through its subsidiary TI Clean Mobility has got into the electric vehicle (EV) space majorly through acquisitions.
Interestingly TII, with its various products -- metals, auto and components, cycles and others -- and listed subsidiaries like Shanthi Gears, CG Power and Industrial Solutions and a couple of unlisted ones, is termed as a group within the Murugappa group.
Several years ago, the Murugappa group had launched and closed production and sales of electric two-wheelers several years back -- through BSA Motors -- has now re-entered the EV segment.
The TI Clean Mobility has announced the launch of its electric passenger three-wheelers. The company has also announced its plan to launch electric tractors and trucks.
In a short interview with IANS, Murugappan talks about the impact of lithium reserves and more. Excerpts:
IANS: Your views on the lithium reserves found in India?
Murugappan: It is welcome news for the entire Indian EV industry and will open many opportunities.
IANS: In your estimation, how long would it take for mining lithium in India?
Murugappan: As per the reports from the media, we have reached the G3 stage (prospecting) for the lithium presence. Therefore, further exploration (G2 stage) and the exact determination of reserve (G1 stage) will decide the starting of actual mining along with a consolidated framework from the regulatory bodies in place.
IANS: What does the finding of lithium reserves mean for the EV industry players? Will it result in reduction in vehicle prices?
Murugappan: The lithium reserve in India will open many opportunities including sustenance, local research and development (R&D) on enhancing the battery chemistries and also a reduction in the battery price.
IANS: Do you think EV players will go for backward integration? What are your views for your group on this point?
Murugappan: The industry players might consider possibilities to ensure a smooth supply chain with a competitive price along with a superior differentiating technology.
IANS: Should India skip the lithium battery and go the next step? If yes, why and if no, why?
Murugappan: I think we should strongly consider utilizing the resource. The reason for this, the battery element in the automotive industry may remain even if we migrate to the next level of technology such as fuel cell.
IANS: If lithium is mined and made available in the country, will there be any reduction in the global prices? If yes, to what extent? What is the current rate? Will there be more battery making units in the country?
Murugappan: It all depends upon a few parameters such as inflow or production rate of raw material, local consumption, grade of the reserve, conversion cost and others.
IANS: Will there be any redrawing of joint venture, technical collaboration agreements by the parties?
Murugappan: It will open many opportunities for collaboration in the area of technology and innovation.
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