Thailand accelerates lithium exploration to boost EV industry


(Photo: Bangkok EV Expo)

To develop electric vehicle industry, Thailand is not only offering subsidies to increase incentives but also, according to the Minister of Industry, Pimpatra Wichaikul, has urged the Department of Primary Industries and Mines (DPIM) to expedite the search for lithium ore sources.

Pimpatra Wichaikul stated that lithium is a crucial component in manufacturing electric vehicle batteries, and the development of lithium mining can provide a stable source for Thailand's lithium battery production. In accordance with the policies of the Ministry of Industry, this initiative lays the foundation for establishing an electric vehicle supply chain.

The Office of the Public Sector Development Commission (OPDC), which aids industries in locating and managing raw materials, as mentioned by its Deputy Chairman Aditat Vasinonta, has issued permits for exploration in 3 potential mining areas in Takua Thung district, Phang Nga province. Among them, Rueangkiat has been identified as having lithium reserves of 14.8 million tons. Additionally, Bang E Tum has been targeted, but exploration results are pending.

If Rueangkiat lithium mine is granted permission for extraction and utilized in the production of lithium-ion batteries, it is estimated to provide at least 1 million 50 kWh electric vehicles. Importantly, the current technology for lithium mining is expected to minimize adverse effects on the environment and human health.

Minister of Industry, Pimpatra Wichaikul, has urged the Department of Primary Industries and Mines to expedite the search for lithium ore sources. (Photo: Ministry of Industry)

Furthermore, OPDC has developed technology for the reusable and recyclable of batteries. In the future, based on the concept of a circular economy, these second-hand batteries will be made available for use in small electric vehicles, households, offices, and factories.

Aditat further mentioned that the EV3.5 policy provides incentives for electric vehicle manufacturing. If Thailand possesses vast lithium reserves, it can attract investors to establish factories, especially considering that batteries constitute a high-value component in electric vehicle production. This could result in positive effects for the industry, supply chain, and even investments and employment. Therefore, OPDC has expedited the review of lithium mining exploration permits and aims to extend this to the mining approval process, with the goal of becoming a lithium battery production hub.

The Thai government has launched the EV 3.5 policy, spanning four years. In 2024, the first year of the subsidy program, individuals purchasing electric vehicles with a price below 2 million Thai Baht (about $57,000 USD) and a battery capacity of 50 kWh or more will be eligible for a subsidy of 100,000 Thai Baht (about $2,858 USD).

For purchases in the second year, the subsidy amount decreases to 75,000 Thai Baht (about $2,144 USD). Regarding electric motorcycles, those with a price below 150,000 Thai Baht (about $4,289USD) and a battery capacity of 3 kWh or more can receive a subsidy of 10,000 Thai Baht (about $285 USD) but limited to vehicles locally manufactured in Thailand.

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