Why in Lithium Deposits in India ?

Geological Survey of India has for the first-time established Lithium inferred resources (G3) of 5.9 million tonnes in Salal-Haimana area of Reasi District of Jammu & Kashmir.

The discovery is ‘inferred’ or preliminary, the lowest of the three levels of estimations of a mineral deposit and the second of the four stages of exploration, as per the UNFC 1997.
●  This may be the seventh largest deposit of the rare element, accounting for roughly 5.7% of all the reserves in the world.
• Previously, in India, lithium reserves have been reported from Karnataka’s Mandya district.

Global Distribution of Lithium

● The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said in 2022 that total lithium resources globally stand at 80 million tonnes although the reserves from which it can be accessed 
were pegged at just over 22 mn tonnes. 

● Though found on each of the six inhabited continents, Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia — together referred to as the “Lithium Triangle”— hold more than 75% of the world’s supply.

Mineral exploration stages

●According to the United Nations Framework for Classification for Reserves and Resources of Solid Fuels and Mineral 
Commodities (UNFC 1997), resources are categorized using the three essential criteria affecting their recoverability:
■ Economic and commercial viability (E).
■ Field project status and feasibility (F).
■Geological knowledge (G).
● Under the Geological Knowledge, the exploration for any mineral deposit involves four stages: reconnaissance survey 
(G4), preliminary exploration (G3), general exploration (G2) and detailed exploration (G1).

Super Lithium Ion Batteries 

Most batteries take a long time to change and don't last more than a few years.German scientists are engineering a rechargeable Lithium _ ion battery with a projected  Lifespan of 28 years.This new battery will also be charged in shorter time and even 28 years of use will still retain 85% of its original charge capacity.  

A Lithium _ ion battery in general is a rechargeable battery .These batteries are common in consumer electronics. They are one of the most popular types of rechargeable batteries for portable electronics, with a high energy density, no memory effect, and only a slow loss of charge when not in use. Researchers across the world are trying to improve the efficiency of these batteries and the current innovation by German scientists is a breakthrough in electronics. 

Significance of Lithium finding

● Reduce import dependency: Currently, India does not have its own lithium resources and is dependent on imports. 

■ In FY2022, India imported lithium and lithium ion worth almost ₹14,000 crore, which is likely to increase going forward.

■ India presently imports lithium from Hong Kong, China, USA, Australia and Argentina.

● Boost to manufacturing and exports: Manufacturing of rechargeable Lithium based batteries for multiple purposes and 

■A World Bank study suggests that the demand for critical metals such as lithium (Li) and cobalt is expected to rise by nearly 500% by 2050.

● Transformation of Mobility: It will strengthen India’s National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery 
Storage for transitioning towards Electric Vehicles and green mobility. 

● Fulfilment of Net Zero Emission Goal by 2070: Lithium being a key component of lithium-ion batteries used in EVs, 
harnessing solar power, wind energy etc.

● Strengthening of critical mineral supply chain for emerging technologies: Lithium reserves and processing is highly 
concentrated and India’s find will significantly strengthen its supply chain. 

■ Although, China does not hold a lot of lithium reserve, it controls over half the global lithium processing and almost 75% of cell components and battery cell production in the world.

Risks from lithium mining in the region

●High risk in ecologically sensitive Himalayas: Recent Joshimath subsidence shows fragility of the region and long-
term issues with activities like mining. 
● Environmental pollution: Open-pit-mining, refining, and waste disposal from Lithium extraction processes substantially degrades the environment, including depletion and contamination of waterways and 
groundwater, biodiversity, and considerable air pollution.

● Stress on Water Resources: Extracting lithium from its ore is highly water-intensive, taking about 2.2 million litres of 
water for one tonne of lithium.

● CO2 Emissions: The lithium production process involves heating the ore at a high temperature that can only be cost-
effective by burning fossil fuels. It could mean emission of 15 tonnes of CO2 for every tonne of lithium.

Way ahead

● Regulation of Lithium Mining: Lithium mining and extraction can be pursued in a regulated manner to ensure sustainable mining. 

● Diversification of supply chain: Till India utilizes its reserves, strategic agreements with international partners are critical for ensuring unrestricted supply of lithium. 

● Increasing efforts to expedite mineral exploration in India: New push and investment is needed to further push the 
mineral exploration with involvement of private sector players. 
● Assessment of socio-ecological impact: Socio-ecological impact of lithium extraction needs to be assessed for ensuring sustainable and inclusive development of the region.


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