Thailand has backtracked on an announcement that it found millions of tonnes of lithium deposits last week, with the government downgrading the scope of its discovery.
On Friday, Bangkok announced it had found nearly 15 tonnes of lithium deposits at two sites in the southern province of Phang Nga, which would have ranked its reserves third in the world.
But officials had instead discovered 14.8 million tonnes of mineral resources, including lepidolite, deputy government spokesperson Rudklao Intawong Suwankiri said Saturday.
Lepidolite is among the most common minerals containing lithium.
“In this mineral resource, lithium oxide is about 0.45 percent,” according to a government statement posted on Facebook over the weekend.
“However, this quantity of lithium can be used to produce 50 kWh batteries for around one million electric vehicles”, Rudklao said.
Lithium is a key component in the manufacture of batteries used in electric cars, as well as smartphones and other electronics.
The government of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, which took over in August, has made it a priority to try and boost Thailand as a regional production hub for electric vehicles, building on the kingdom’s history of assembling conventional cars.