India’s NMDC has started investigating lithium deposits in Western Australia. The state-owned mining enterprise hopes to expand its lithium production in order to scale up production of electric vehicles (EVs).

It comes after NMDC’s 2022 announcement that it had purchased a stake in the Mount Bevan iron ore mine, also in Western Australia. The lithium block was purchased from Hawthorn Resources, who also bought into Mount Bevan initially.

The second half of 2023 will also see the opening of a lithium-ion cell gigafactory in the country. The plant, built by Indian automotive firm Lucas-TVS, will have a productive capacity of 10GWh.

India’s government itself revealed the discovery of its first ever domestic lithium deposit in February, reported Reuters. With global lithium consumption jumping 24.5% in 2022, the deposit gives India the potential to develop a large domestic lithium industry.

Demand for EVs in India has surged, attracting investment both from the government and abroad.  During the 2023-24 budget, the Indian government laid out $425.6mn of investment with the aim of achieving net-zero emissions by 2070. Toyota also announced their own $530m investment in India’s EV market in 2022. This is in order to meet its own 2050 carbon neutrality targets.

Since 2019, the Indian government has supported EV sales through the FAME II scheme, in which it provides subsidies to encourage EV purchases. Alongside this, the program has provided financial support for the manufacture of electrified buses, bikes, three-wheelers and other EVs. Charging infrastructure is also benefitting from the program. More than 500 charging points have been installed nationwide with government assistance between April 2019 and July 2022.

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