How a lithium deal between two companies in France & UK is an opportunity for India's EV sector

India, now a part of MSP, can push for a trilateral pact with these countries for a steady supply of lithium 

By Rohan Malhotra, Mrinal Tripathi
Published: Friday 30 June 2023
Such a deal can underpin India's domestic EV manufacturing sector. Photo: iStock

Lithium, which is used in manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles (EV), has emerged as the most sought-after material, as countries race to deploy and engage their strategic reserves for critical materials to achieve their electric mobility ambitions.

A deal between a French minerals company and a British startup aims to produce enough lithium to run half a million EVs a year, according to media reports.

Imerys, a Paris-based industrial supplier, acquired 80 per cent of British Lithium, a small private company based in the United Kingdom that’s extracting lithium from Cornwall in southwest England.

Jointly, they will develop a mine that they estimate will ultimately churn out enough lithium to produce 20,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate a year.

India has been pushing for indigenous manufacturing of EV batteries to foster an electric mobility ecosystem and achieve 30 per cent electrification of its national fleet by the year 2030.

Last week, India became a part of the coveted Minerals Security Partnership, which is headed by the United States and has France and UK among members. Using this strong diplomatic position, the country can push for a trilateral strategic partnership to establish a secure and reliable lithium supply chain.

Such a deal can underpin its domestic EV manufacturing sector. Already, the S&P Global India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose from 57.2 in April to 58.7 in May 2023, indicating a growth of the country’s manufacturing sector.

This means India has a good manufacturing potential, provided there is reliable supply of raw materials.

This deal marks an important milestone for the entire European lithium market as this could pave the way for creating a sustainable future for lithium production in the UK. India and UK both see clean energy as their top priority, with France being one of the key elements of relation building in India’s diplomatic approach.

India’s potential new trilateral pact with France and UK in securing lithium supply chains will open new avenues for their strategic partnership and push India’s EV growth to a new high.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to travel to France in July 2023, and this visit can set the stage for this trilateral pact, with France being one of its key defence partners. 

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