Saturday, March 25th, 2023 03:53:13


By Manoj Dubey
Updated: February 28, 2023 10:14 am

As per the US Geological Survey data, Bolivia has the highest 21 million tonnes of Lithium reserves, Argentina has second highest 20 million tonnes and third is the USA with 12 million tonnes. On February 9, India announced the discovery of its first Lithium deposits of 5.9 million tonnes in Salal- Haimana region of Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district. This is the first major discovery of Lithium, with only other being a small deposit of 1600 tonnes found in Karnataka sometime back. India currently imports nearly 80% Lithium of its requirement for manufacturing sector from Argentina, Australia and Chili. Total Lithium reserve in the world is nearly 98 million tonnes. The three countries Argentina, Bolivia and Chili make up a region known as the Lithium Triangle. This triangle is known for its high-quality salt flats, it is also believed to contain nearly 75% of existing Lithium reserves. According to a report by International Energy Agency, China currently accounts for over 50% Lithium processing globally.

Lithium, a least dense solid soft shining grey metal, is known as white gold. It is extremely reactive, inflammable alkaline and light metal. It is an electropositive, monovalent metal forming strongly alkaline hydroxide. It is not found in its elemental form in the nature and is usually found as ionic compounds. It is a good conductor of heat and electricity. It is kept in vacuum, inert atmosphere or inert liquid (purified kerosene or mineral oil). Lithium bearing minerals are classified as atomic minerals.

Lithium is used in the manufacturing of ceramics and glassware, greases, medical compounds (used in mood stabilizers, anti-depressants and bipolar disorder), air conditioners and solar panels. It is also used in metallurgy, welding and soldering among other things. Metallic lithium and its complex hydrides are used as high energy additives to rocket propellants. Lithium compounds are also used in pyrotechnic colorants and oxidizers in red fireworks and flares. Lithium fluoride is used in specialist optics for infrared and ultraviolet applications.

Due to its enormous energy storage capacity and incredibly low weight, it is widely used in the manufacturing of battery. Lithium battery is used for low power, high reliability, long life applications such as clocks, cameras and calculators. Lithium-ion or Li-ion battery is rechargeable which uses reversible reduction of Lithium ions to store energy. It is used in mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras and electric vehicles (EVs).

As the technology is fast changing, the efforts to reduce carbon emission are made globally and we are moving away from gasoline fuelled combustion engines to electric(battery) based engines. This requires the availability of Lithium to make batteries for vehicles in large quantities. All automobile manufacturers are in the process of making electric vehicles which requires Lithium and its batteries. Presently we are depending on its import, mainly from China. According to International Lithium Association the demand is set to increase manifold in near future due to growing interest in electric vehicles and renewable technologies.

India seeks to become a major competitor in the development of EVs. So, this discovery will improve our standing, and also will draw the dominance away from the Lithium triangle. We all need to celebrate this moment as the part of PM’s movement towards aatma-nirbhar(self-reliant) India.

This discovery of Lithium in J&K is a major boost for India’s large electrification plans, but it’s mining is a high-risk, high-reward game in the ecologically sensitive Himalayas. This metal is associated with carbon neutrality. Experts have cautioned against the environmental impacts of the mines itself. In this Eco sensitive region, mining could lead to a loss of biodiversity. Ecologically sensitive zones are designated by the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change in India. In these areas with surrounding national parks, commercial activities are restricted to ensure their protection.

At the time when the world is struggling with the carbon emission, the boom in the production of electric vehicles is imminent and this discovery is much needed for the India’s transition to clean energy. It will support the manufacturing of EVs and smart phones. This will change ndia’s position in the EVs global market.

With this development, we expect India to be less dependent on the import of Lithium and crude oil. This will also generate jobs, reduce the pollution, boost the production of EVs,  mobiles and laptops. However, we need to take all the precautions while processing, so that there is no negative impact on the environment.


By Manoj Dubey
Principal (retd.) Delhi public school

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