Thailand has announced the discovery of large lithium deposits in the south of the country. “ The third largest reserve in the world after Bolivia and Argentina ”, according to local authorities. But is this really the case?
Lithium deposits in Phang Nga province
In the province of Phang Nga, whose bay is world famous for its beauty, deposits containing lithium were discovered in two places. Good news for the Thai government (on paper) which sees electric vehicles as a key growth sector. For several years, Bangkok has done everything possible to attract large foreign manufacturers to its soil.
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For example, Great Wall Motor recently became the first Chinese automobile manufacturer to manufacture electric cars in Thailand. Toyota and Honda also plan to expand into the country in the coming years. To accelerate this trend, these lithium deposits would therefore be welcome. They would represent a major argument for bringing in battery manufacturers.
Poor quality ore in Thailand?
One of the sites was initially estimated to contain 14.8 million tonnes of lithium-bearing ore. In the wake of these announcements, researchers reacted by asserting that there was a good chance that the quality of the ore was poor. After verification, the deputy government spokesperson actually attenuated the authorities’ comments. He said the ore contained only 0.45% lithium.
This will still be enough to produce “ a million 50 kWh batteries for electric cars “. The deposits are therefore not as large as Thailand hoped. With the mass adoption of electric vehicles in many countries, the demand for lithium has exploded. Global production of this ore increased by 21% in 2022, to reach 130,000 tonnes.
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Large deposits of sodium have also been discovered in the northeast of the country, another important resource for battery manufacturing. Thailand intends to be one of the new strongholds in the electrical industry.
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