E-scooter maker Ola Electric is looking to bid for mining rights for lithium blocks, which are being auctioned by the Centre. Last year, the NDA government at the Centre launched the first part of its critical minerals auctions in a move to boost its EV battery manufacturing plans.
Last year in the Monsoon session of the Parliament, the Lok Sabha passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, which enabled private companies to mine critical minerals like lithium, which was earlier limited to only state-owned companies.
“The mineral sector requires certain more reforms, particularly for increasing exploration and mining of critical minerals that are essential for economic development and national security in the country,” the bill read.
Electric vehicles made up about 2% of total car sales in India of 3.9 million last fiscal year. The Centre is planning to grow this to 30% by 2030. Critical minerals have gained significance in view of India’s commitment towards energy transition and achieving net-zero emission by 2070.
In the ongoing auction, the government is likely to generate around Rs 45,000 crore ($5.4 billion) by auctioning 20 blocks across eight states.
“Ola has shown interest and has put forward lots of queries around land acquisition and discovery of other minerals alongside lithium in the blocks,” one of the sources told Reuters on Wednesday.
Ola executives have attended the auction meetings, another source told Reuters. But the company is yet to take a final call, which depends on factors such as global prices of lithium and the viability of mining it, the source said.
Lithium is important for Ola, given the company’s strategic intentions to undertake domestic production of lithium-ion batteries, which are integral components of electric vehicles. This decision aligns with their effort to achieve vertical integration within their supply chain — a move that promises enhanced operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Other potential bidders for lithium include Adani Enterprises, Vedanta Ltd, Reliance Industries, Himadri Chemicals, Reuters previously reported. Dalmia Cement, UltraTech Cement and NLC India have also shown interest in the lithium blocks.