ARKANSAS, January 25 (Future Headlines)- In a strategic move to solidify its position as a regional electric vehicle (EV) production hub, Thailand aims to commence lithium production from its southwest mines within the next two years. The push to establish lithium mines sets Thailand apart, aligning with its ambitious plans to become a major player in both lithium production and EV manufacturing. The country’s unique approach involves substantial investments, regulatory revisions, and collaboration with Chinese firms to navigate the complex lithium market.

Pan Asia Metals, the mining company involved in the project, plans to submit mining licenses in March for the Reung Kiet project in Thailand’s Phang-Nga province. The Reung Kiet site is anticipated to produce approximately 164,500 metric tons of lithium carbonate, a critical component in lithium iron phosphate batteries for EVs. This significant development could supply enough lithium for at least 1 million EV batteries, each with a capacity of 50 kilowatt-hours.

Paul Lock, Chairman and Managing Director of Pan Asia Metals, expressed optimism about starting lithium chemical production at Reung Kiet by early 2026. He highlighted the potential for growth through further exploration, positioning Thailand as an emerging player in the global lithium market. Thailand’s Department of Primary Industries and Mines (DPIM) forecasts that mining at the Reung Kiet site could commence in about two years. Additionally, the mineral resources at the Bang I Tum site, another part of the project, could be 10%-70% larger than Reung Kiet, expanding Thailand’s presence in the lithium market.

The total lithium resources in Thailand and the viability of mining them on a large scale remain unclear. However, this move places Thailand alongside major lithium-producing countries like Australia, Argentina, Chile, and China. The initiative aligns with Thailand’s broader goal of transitioning about 30% of its annual vehicle production into EVs by 2030. The country, already Southeast Asia’s largest car producer and exporter, aims to position itself as a regional hub for battery production, covering both EVs and energy storage.

To support the growth of its EV industry, Thailand has attracted $659.40 million in investments for 38 battery production projects. The Thailand Board of Investment is actively supporting these projects, contributing to the nation’s goal of becoming a regional leader in battery production. Furthermore, the Thai government is revising regulations to encourage private firms, such as Matsa Resources, an Australian miner exploring lithium in Thailand, to conduct studies on agricultural land. The goal is to create a comprehensive supply chain within the country, from mining to production.

The exploration of Thai lithium deposits, primarily lepidolite minerals, distinguishes it from Australian and Chilean projects. Matsa Resources and Pan Asia Metals are in discussions with Chinese firms to process lepidolite minerals, which, although potentially more expensive, offers strategic advantages. Establishing a mine and a 10,000-tonnes-per-annum lithium conversion plant in Thailand would require an investment of about $180 million to $250 million.

This comprehensive strategy aims to ensure a local supply of essential materials, supporting Thai-based battery manufacturers and reinforcing the country’s status as a growing force in the global EV and lithium markets.

Reporting by Alireza Sabet; Editing by Sarah White