A major revelation has come out of Thailand as it was announced that one of the key components in electric vehicle (EV) battery production, lithium, has been discovered. On Friday, January 19, Thai government spokesman Rudklao Intawong Suwankiri said that the country had discovered nearly 15 million tons of lithium resources. With this substantial amount, Thailand could potentially become the world's largest lithium resource country after Bolivia and Argentina.
Unfortunately, it turns out that there was an error in the information provided. With an amount of 14.8 million tons, it seems that the total mineral resources include various types of minerals, not just lithium. On Saturday, January 20, Rudklao acknowledged the error in a post on the government website.
The discovery is said to contain lepidolite with an average lithium oxide content of about 0.45 percent. With precise mining and refining, this find has the potential to provide raw materials for the production of lithium-ion batteries for at least one million 50 kWh electric vehicles, a type commonly used in electric cars.
Rudklao emphasized the importance of mineral resources such as lithium, sodium or potassium as crucial elements in establishing national stability. This contribution could reduce dependence on imports and increase the self-reliance of the Thai people, as explained in more detail.
Meanwhile, Jessada Denduangboripant, a science lecturer at Chulalongkorn University, posted information about the discovery on his Facebook page on January 19. Before Rudklao's admission of error, Jessada stated that the amount of lithium that could be extracted from the 14.8 million tons of mineral resources was only about 66,600 tons. This suggests that despite the positive impact, the figure may be lower than originally thought.
The mineral reserves are spread over two separate locations in the southern province of Phang Nga. Special licenses have been granted by the Department of Primary Industries and Mines to explore the lithium potential of three areas in the Takua Thung district of Phang Nga, including Ruang Kiet and Bang E-Thum. The first area was once part of a major tin mining region until the mid-1980s.
The government of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who took office in August, has prioritized efforts to make Thailand a regional hub for electric vehicle production, building on the kingdom's history of assembling conventional cars. This commitment is evident in their EV3.5 campaign, which not only emphasizes the promotion of the electric vehicle industry in Thailand but also aims to promote the country as a hub for EV battery manufacturing in the region.
Possessing mineral resources, including lithium, would be highly beneficial for Thailand as it experiences rapid growth as an electric vehicle manufacturing base. The country's desire to have a complete supply chain aims to further enhance its attractiveness to investors in the automotive industry.
In December last year, two electric vehicle giants from China announced their intention to invest 2.3 billion baht ($64 million) to develop Thailand as a production hub. Meanwhile, two Australian companies, Pan Asia Metals and Matsa Resources, operating in the region of this mineral discovery, have detailed their initial findings on their websites.