Australian Economy

Ola Electric taps Australian firms for battery minerals

NEW DELHI : Ola Electric Mobility Pvt. Ltd has begun talks with Australian companies to source key minerals for electric vehicle battery manufacture, two people aware of the development said. The discussions to explore commercial and economic collaboration in minerals were held under the aegis of the Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) programme.

The proposed collaboration would include the supply of minerals such as lithium, graphite, cobalt, nickel and titanium from Australian companies to EV manufacturers such as Ola Electric, looking to strengthen their cell and battery manufacturing value chain.

An Australian delegation visited Ola Electric’s manufacturing facility in Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu and its battery innovation centre (BIC) in Bengaluru to expand talks around a strategic partnership, the people cited above said on the condition of anonymity.

The development comes after India and Australia signed an Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) earlier this year.

The likely collaboration assumes significance as India has significantly reduced tariffs on minerals under the ECTA agreement. However, it must be noted that ECTA is yet to be ratified in the Australian parliament and is expected to come into effect by the end of the year.

Queries sent to Ola Electric Mobility remained unanswered till press time.

Canberra-based mineral companies such as CSIRO Minerals, Rio Tinto, Ardea Resources, Australian Vanadium Ltd, Future Battery Industries CRC and Geoscience Australia were part of the delegation that met Ola Electric executives to explore ties, the people cited above said on the condition of anonymity.

“Australia has among the largest global supplies of battery minerals and world-class mineral processing technologies. We look forward to working closely with India to power our renewable energy futures. More than 100 Australian businesses have visited India as part of the Australia India Business Exchange mission this week to explore commercial partnership opportunities,” the Australian High Commission said in response to a query.

Ola Electric, founded by Bhavish Aggarwal of Ola Cabs, has invested $500 million to set up the Bengaluru BIC for battery pack design, fabrication and testing. Earlier this year, the company unveiled its first Li-ion cell, NMC 2170. Ola plans to mass-produce its cells from its coming giga factory by 2023. The company was also allocated 20GWh capacity under the production-linked incentives scheme for advanced chemistry cells.

In an interview with Mint, Denise Eaton, trade and investment commissioner, Australia, had earlier said that a delegation comprising 106 companies would visit this week to explore supply partnerships with Indian companies. The Australian companies will also scout for opportunities in critical minerals, digital health, infrastructure and agri-food sectors.

India’s merchandise imports from Australia were $15.1 billion in 2021, consisting largely of raw materials, minerals and intermediate goods. India’s merchandise exports to Australia surged 135% between 2019 and 2021. India’s exports have a broad-based basket largely of finished products and were $6.9 billion in 2021.

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