Lithium Finding in India


    In News

    • The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has found lithium resources in Jammu and Kashmir for the first time. 
      • The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has established “inferred” lithium resources of 5.9 million tonnes in Salal-Haimana area of Reasi District of Jammu and Kashmir. 

    What are ‘Inferred’ Resources?

    • Mineral Resources are sub-divided into inferred, indicated and measured  categories, based on the order of increasing geological confidence.
    • Inferred Mineral Resource is  a mineral resource for which quantity, grade (or quality) and mineral content can be estimated with a low level of confidence. It is inferred and assumed from geological evidence but not verified geologically.

    Stages of Geological Exploration for Lithium

    • The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has categorised the recent discovery of resources in preliminary exploration, called the G3 stage. 
    • According to The United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC), there are four stages of exploration for any mineral deposit: reconnaissance (G4), preliminary exploration (G3), general exploration (G2), and detailed exploration (G1).
    • The mineral extraction process typically begins with the G4 stage.

    Significance of Findings

    • Lithium also called “white gold” is a metal of strategic nature with following applications for india
    • Electric mobility: with the current government’s focus EV’s are expected to be nearly three-fourth of Indian two-wheelers  by 2030, and all new cars are expected to be EVs. The majority of them will have to be powered by lithium-based battery packs in the near term.
    • Climate change mitigation: Technologies such as lithium-ion batteries, hydrogen fuel cells are likely to play a key role in India’s plan to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35% from its 2005 levels by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2070
    • Energy Transition: The success of transition from combustion vehicle to an electric vehicle depends on battery, which accounts for at least 30% of the vehicle’s cost. India’s demand for these critical resources has risen 6 fold in the last five years as it tries to be the electronic and solar manufacturing hub.
    • Energy security: According to the Central Electricity Authority, the country will need 27 GW of grid-scale energy storage systems by 2030. This will require large amounts of lithium.
    • Economy: As various government schemes like PLI are focussing on electronics and semiconductors. Availability of lithium resources can help in establishing end to end supply chains.
      • It also reduces imports and boosts employment opportunities. The country currently imports all of its lithium needs. India was heavily dependent on Hong Kong and China for its Lithium requirements.

    About Lithium

    • Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3. It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. 
    • Under standard conditions, it is the least dense metal and the least dense solid element. 
    • Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable, and must be stored in vacuum, inert atmosphere, or inert liquid such as purified kerosene or mineral oil.

    Global reserves

    • Chile, Australia, Argentina, Bolivia and China contain most of the reserves discovered so far globally. 
    • In South America, 54% of the world’s Lithium reserves are found in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. The area is referred to as the ‘Lithium Triangle’ and is concentrated in various salt pans present in the Atacama Desert and neighbouring arid regions.

    Other Potential sources of Lithium in India

    • In India, there is some potential to recover lithium from brines of Sambhar and Pachpadra areas in Rajasthan, and Rann of Kutch, Gujarat
    • The major mica belts located in Rajasthan, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh and the pegmatite belts in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, alongside rock mining being undertaken at Mandya, Karnataka, are other potential geological domains of the country.

    Concerns related to recent findings in J&K

    • The new find is categorised as “inferred”. The “inferred” mineral resource is the part of a resource for which quantity, grade and mineral content are estimated only with a low level of confidence.
    • The lithium find in J&K, in inferred terms, is also comparatively small, considering that proven reserves in Bolivia are 21 million tonnes, 17 million tonnes in Argentina, 6.3 million tonnes in Australia, and 4.5 million tonnes in China.
    • There are also environmental concerns associated with such extractions that  need to be dealt with carefully.

    About GSI

    • Geological Survey of India (GSI) established in 1851. It is an attached office to the Ministry of Mines.
    • The principal function of GSI relates to creation and updation of national geoscientific data and mineral resource assessment, air-borne and marine surveys and conducting multifarious geotechnical, geo-environmental and natural hazards studies.

    Source: TH