Lithium In Abundance: 5.9 Million Tonne Deposits Found In Jammu And Kashmir


The Ministry of Mines on Thursday (9 February) announced that lithium reserves have been found for the first time in the country in Jammu and Kashmir.

The 5.9 million tonne lithium inferred resources have been established in Salal-Haimana area of Reasi District of Jammu and Kashmir by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) during preliminary exploration (G3) stage.

This is the first significant mineral discovery in India, as previously only a small reserve had been discovered in Karnataka.

Preliminary surveys by Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), a constituent unit of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) have shown presence of lithium inferred resources of 1,600 tonne in Marlagalla in Mandya district of Karnataka.

Lithium Criticality

The bedrock of EV transition, lithium is a non-ferrous metal and an essential material in the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used for electric vehicles and energy-storage systems.

Lithium-ion batteries offer a longer life cycle as compared to traditional lead-acid batteries. However, the main reason for their high adoption in EVs is their high energy density. High energy density allows lithium-ion batteries to store more energy in less weight/volume, which is an ideal requirement for e-mobility applications.

Argentina is ranked among the main mineral reserves across the globe. Together with Chile and Bolivia, the north-west of the country forms the so-called “Lithium Triangle” and is currently the fourth largest producer and has the third largest world reserve of this mineral.

Australia is the top lithium producer globally. The US and China, too, are key producers of the mineral besides the Lithium Triangle.

Pacts Inked

Lithium deposits are critical for India as the country puts its focus on electric mobility for both public and private transport. ‘White gold’, is scarce in the country and as such India is import-dependent for lithium.

The country’s imports of lithium and lithium-ion in FY21 stood at Rs 8,984 crore in FY21 and increased to Rs 13,838.22 crore in FY22.

Hong Kong and China are the major source of imports with two countries together accounting for 69.37 per cent of lithium imports and 96.21 per cent of lithium ion import in FY 21.

Alongside a move to tap into the global lithium value chain, India has initiated a concerted domestic exploration push for the alkali metal. As part of efforts to augment local reserves of the critical mineral, the GSI has carried out 14 projects on lithium during last five years.

In addition, Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KABIL), a joint venture company under the Mines Ministry has initiated engagement with several state-owned organisations of source countries like Argentina, Australia, Chile to acquire lithium assets overseas.

In December 2022, KABIL evinced interest to partner with Argentina-based CAMYEN for two prospective lithium projects in La Aguada and El Indio in Catamarca. It is also in talks with Empresa Nacional de Minería, a Chilean State Mineral company for jointly pursuing lithium mining projects in Chile.