Hindalco Industries is eyeing lithium in the minor mineral space in order to strengthen its aluminium business. “Lithium is the closest to our (aluminium) business, and in India, there could be some opportunities in this minor mineral. We are watching. If we get an opportunity we will get into this minor mineral,” said Satish Pai, managing director of the company. The country’s largest aluminium producer has captive bauxite mines in Jharkhand, Chattishgarh, Maharashtra, and Odisha. Bauxite is raw material needed to make alumina from which aluminium is derived. The company, part of the $44.3-billion Aditya Birla Group, is looking for the minor mineral via its mining arm, Essel Mining & Industries (EMIL). Currently, Essel Mining is into contract coal and iron ore mining, and operates in 35 countries. “It is Essel Mining, the group’s mining arm, which is looking into this,” Pai said, without divulging any detail about a timeline. Located in the mineral-rich Barbil-Barajamda belt of Odisha, Essel Mining’s calibrated iron ore lump and iron ore fines, with iron content between 62-66 per cent, are considered the best quality in the country. Lithium and manganese are the most common alloys used with aluminium. This is used in the aerospace industry. Apart from aluminium, Hindalco’s copper division, Birla Copper, operates one of the largest single-location custom copper smelters. The custom copper smelter at Dahej in Gujarat has three copper smelters, three refineries, two rod plants, a captive power plant, a captive oxygen plant, phosphoric acid plant, diammonium phosphate plant, precious metal recovery plant, captive jetty and other utilities. Lithium has wide application in batteries for mobile phones, laptops and electric vehicles. Global prices of lithium have moved up in the past five years but have been declining since past few months.