India Announces First Significant Discovery of Lithium Reserves in Jammu & Kashmir

India has announced its first significant discovery of reserves of lithium, according to a recent report by BBC. According to information, 5.9 million tonnes of lithium which is a rare element crucial for manufacturing electric vehicles had been discovered in Jammu and Kashmir.

Lithium is a key component in rechargeable batteries that power numerous gadgets like smartphones and laptops, as well as electric cars. So far, India has depended on Australia and Argentina for lithium imports. Experts say that the discovery could aid India’s push to increase the number of private electric cars to 30% by 2030, as part of efforts to cut carbon emissions & tackle global warming.

In 2020-21, India imported INR 173 crore worth of lithium and INR 8,811 crore worth of lithium ions. If India has its own sources of lithium, it would not have to rely too much on imports for its lithium needs, as it currently does. There are reportedly 98 million tonnes of lithium globally, now however after the latest find, India has found 5.5% of these resources. As per estimate, Chile – at 9.2 million tonnes – led the world in lithium reserves, followed by Australia (6.2 million tonnes). So India’s recent find of 5.9 million tonnes of lithium could catapult it into the top three countries in the world with the highest lithium reserves.

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According to India’s Ministry of Mines, the Geological Survey of India found the lithium reserves in the Salal-Haimana area of the Reasi district in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2021, much smaller deposits of lithium were found in the southern state of Karnataka. Earlier, the Indian government had said that it was looking to improve its supply of rare metals needed to boost new technologies and was looking for sources in India and abroad.

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Around the world, the demand for rare metals, including lithium, has increased as countries look to adopt greener solutions to slow down climate change. In 2023, China signed a $1bn (£807m) deal to develop Bolivia’s vast lithium reserves, which are estimated at 21m tonnes and the largest in the world. According to the World Bank, the mining of crucial minerals will need to increase by 500% to meet global climate targets by 2050.

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However, experts say that the process of mining lithium is not environment-friendly. Lithium is extracted from hard rocks and underground brine reservoirs largely found in Australia, Chile, and Argentina. After it is mined, it is roasted using fossil fuels, searing the landscape and leaving behind scars.

The extraction process also requires a lot of water and releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. To extract it from underground reservoirs, many of which are found in water-scarce Argentina – a large amount of water is used, leading to protests from indigenous communities, who say that such activity is exhausting natural resources and leading to acute water shortages.

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