New Delhi, Sept 8 PSU-miner NMDC is eyeing acquisition of a minority stake in lithium mines in Australia. The company is in talks with three players, those aware of the discussions told BusinessLine.

Sources said, of the major players in Australia, a Chinese company has already been ruled out.

Preliminary discussions have begun and issues including how much stake the PSU miner will pick up, are still under consideration.

If the deal materialises, NMDC will need to sign an off-take agreement in proportion to the stake it is picking up in the target company or miner.

The plan is to bring the entire amount of mined lithium from the island nation to India to cater to rising domestic demand.

“There will be demand for electric vehicles and batteries. And some battery makers are looking to set up capacities. Naturally, we foresee rising demand for lithium here. In such a scenario, ensuring confirmed supplies can help,” a company official said.

Lithium is a key component of batteries and other electronics, particularlyrechargeable lithium-ion batteries, used in electric vehicles and energy storage solutions.

Australia is among the top six lithium producers globally, along with Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, the USA and China.

Other Minerals

NMDC’s Perth-based subsidiary, Legacy Iron Ore, has entered into a joint venture with a prospecting company, Hancock Prospecting, for development of iron-ore mines at Mt Bevan iron ore project owned by Hawthorn Resources and Legacy Minerals.

Prospecting activities there include exploration and mining of rare earth and other critical minerals such as copper, tungsten, cobalt, nickel and lithium.

Previous attempts to explore gold and nickel mining in Africa did not materialise on the expected lines.

In India, the company has already obtained a prospecting licence to carry out exploration activities for lithium reserves in Karnataka. Work on exploration is yet to begin.