Context: Lithium deposits have been found in Jammu and Kashmir.
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- The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has established “inferred” lithium resources of 5.9 million tonnes in the Salal-Haimana area of the Reasi District of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Lithium is a non-ferrous metal and a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3 belonging to the alkali metal group of elements.
- It’s a silvery-white metal with a delicate texture.
- It is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element under normal circumstances.
- It must be kept in mineral oil since it is very reactive and combustible.
- It has a low melting point and a low specific heat capacity, making it an ideal material for heat transfer applications.
- Lithium is found in small amounts in a variety of minerals, including spodumene, lepidolite, and petalite, but it is usually obtained through the electrolysis of lithium chloride.
Geological Survey of India (GSI)
- GSI was established in 1851 primarily to serve British interests in exploring coal deposits for the expansion of the railway network in the country.
- It is a scientific agency in India and after independence in 1947, it was brought under the ambit of the mining ministry.
- The main functions of the GSI relate to the creation and updation of national geo-scientific information and mineral resource assessment.
- It is headquartered in Kolkata and has six regional offices located at Lucknow, Jaipur, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Shillong and Kolkata. Every state has a state unit.
- Presently, GSI is an attached office to the Ministry of Mines.
Why is the Lithium Discovery Important for India?
- High Demand: As the world transitions from gasoline and diesel to electric vehicles, the demand for lithium is also going up rapidly.
- Reduced Supply: The discovery of Lithium in India comes in handy at a time when the world’s lithium supply can barely keep up with its demand. According to the International Energy Agency, the world could face lithium shortages by 2025.
- Vast Application:
- Lithium is one of the key components in electric vehicle (EV) batteries.
- Lithium is used not only in EVs but also in batteries for gadgets like laptops and mobile phones.
- It has also found application in the glass and ceramics industries.
- Lithium has been dubbed “white gold” for its widespread usage in items indispensable to modern-day living.
- Limited Reserves: Lithium deposits in India are relatively limited compared to other countries, but there are a few known reserves in the country. Some of the areas where lithium has been found in India include:
- Rajasthan: The largest lithium reserves in India are located in the district of Alwar in Rajasthan.
- Karnataka: Smaller deposits of lithium have been found in the state of Karnataka, particularly in the districts of Bangalore Rural and Mysore.
- Andhra Pradesh: Lithium deposits have also been found in the state of Andhra Pradesh, in the districts of Anantapur and Cuddapah.
- Counter China’s Dominance: China controls 60 per cent of the world’s capacity for processing raw lithium products into batteries. Estimates say that China’s dominance in the market for lithium-ion batteries could be as high as 80 per cent.
Lithium Distribution Across the World
Lithium deposits can be found in various parts of the world, with the largest reserves located in:
- Chile: Chile has the largest lithium reserves in the world, with an estimated 7.5 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent.
- Australia: Australia has the second-largest lithium reserves, with an estimated 4.8 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent.
- Argentina: Argentina has large lithium reserves, with an estimated 2.7 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent.
- China: China has significant lithium reserves, with an estimated 1.4 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent.
- Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe has substantial lithium reserves, with an estimated 1.3 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent.
- Portugal: Portugal has modest lithium reserves, with an estimated 0.9 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent.
- Brazil: Brazil has significant lithium reserves, with an estimated 0.8 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent.
Other countries with smaller lithium reserves include the United States, Bolivia, Serbia, and Canada.