India’s state-owned mineral producer NMDC is in talks with Australian firms to purchase a minority stake in a lithium mine in the latter, reported Financial Express.

NMDC started negotiations to acquire the stake in one of the mines owned by Hancock Prospecting (HPPL) or Hawthorn Resources.

According to an official, NMDC could take a minority stake in one of the mines owned by Hancock or Hawthorn Resources, since a ‘majority stake would require billions of dollars’.

The official noted: “We had very preliminary talks.”

An offtake agreement is planned to be signed by NMDC with the target company in place of a minority stake.

The state-run iron ore miner intends to bring back its entire share from the project to India to meet the growing demand for lithium following rising domestic sales of electric vehicles.

According to sources, NMDC is also looking to acquire cobalt, nickel and gold mines in various geographies, including Africa.

Hawthorn Resources currently owns projects such as the Anglo-Saxo, Edjudina, Black Raven Mining and Mount Baven projects while Hancock recently formed a joint venture with Atlas Iron/Hancock Prospecting and Legacy in the Mt Bevan magnetite project.

NMDC aims to have an iron ore production capacity of 100 million tonnes by FY30.

The firm produces 35Mtpa of ore from its major iron-producing units, including the Bailadila Sector in Chhattisgarh, and Donimalai in Bellary-Hospet, Karnataka, India.