SET-listed Banpu is preparing to diversify into the mining of rare earths, which is expected to replace its coal mining activities as the company focuses on the development of greener and smarter energy.
The company is eager to embark on mining elements, including those needed for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.
Banpu is approaching mine operators in Indonesia, Laos and Australia to discuss the possibility of forming business partnerships, said Jamon Jamuang, Banpu's senior vice-president for mine engineering and development.
He declined to elaborate on the companies' names, saying only that the new business is expected to take shape over the next couple of years.
Banpu sees an opportunity to develop a mine for rare earths in Indonesia through Indo Tambangraya Megah, its Indonesian coal mining arm.
According to Indo Tambangraya Megah, its coal sales during the first half of this year stood at 9.9 million tonnes. The company, which trades coal in Asia and Australia, aims to achieve a sales target of 21.5-22.2 million tonnes in 2023.
Banpu started its coal business roughly 40 years ago. Later, amid growing global campaigns for cleaner energy, it decided to diversify into power generation, including an investment in a solar power plant in Japan, as well as energy technology development.
Somruedee Chaimongkol, chief executive of Banpu, said the company is determined not to make new investments in coal businesses as it wants to generate revenue from businesses that are in line with its greener and smarter energy strategy.
To shift from coal trade to the rare earths business, Banpu is conducting a feasibility study on a business transition by focusing on key minerals that can be used to support clean energy solutions.
The move is part of the company's plan to transform its businesses, technology and workforce over the next 10 years.
Banpu announced it will allocate US$2 billion to support the expansion of its business units between 2023 and 2025.
In the power business, which is run by Banpu Power Plc, the company aims to increase its electricity generation capacity to 6.1 gigawatts by 2025, up from 4.97GW at present.
Banpu continues to develop its gas business in the US by using carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
In the energy technology business, Banpu aims to increase the power generation capacity of its rooftop and floating solar panels to 500 megawatts by 2025.