The Union Government on Thursday said that 5.9 million tonnes of lithium reserves have been found for the first time in the country in Jammu and Kashmir.
Lithium is a non-ferrous metal and is one of the key components in EV batteries.
‘Geological Survey of India (GSI) for the first time established Lithium inferred resources (G3) of 5.9 million tonnes in the Salal-Haimana area of the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir,’ the Ministry of Mines said on Thursday.
It further that 51 mineral blocks including Lithium and Gold were handed over to respective state governments.
The blocks were prepared based on the work carried out by GSI from field seasons 2018-19 to till date.
Apart from these, 17 reports of Coal and Lignite with a total resource of 7897 million tonnes were also handed over to the Ministry of Coal.
The Geological Survey of India has formulated 115 projects on strategic and critical minerals and 16 projects on fertilizer minerals.
In 1997, the GSI had submitted a detailed report about the presence of lithium in the same area, but oversight and inertia left the potential for such a discovery buried.
‘Inferred’ refers to the lowest of three ‘levels of confidence’ in the estimation of a mineral deposit, behind ‘indicated’ and ‘measured,’ which means that like in ’97, the latest discovery is also preliminary, but seems promising.
The area could well become the world’s seventh-largest deposit of the rare element, if all levels of confidence are met.
According to the United Nations Framework Classification for mineral resources, there are four stages of exploration, with this discovery at the second stage.
Mines Secretary Vivek Bharadwaj said once the deposits are auctioned off by the Jammu and Kashmir administration, private players will start the process to excavate the mineral, as the government does not have those resources at present.
‘It’s a big thing for India. We are focusing on critical minerals because that’s where the future is,’ he said
He said the geological report has been handed over to the Jammu and Kashmir administration, and it will be up to it to take the next step.
“Now it’s for them to go ahead and auction it. And once the private party will come up, they will start the entire process and excavate the mineral,” said Mr Bharadwaj.
About half of the world’s lithium deposits are found in three countries, Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile.
This discovery may be significant as it might go a-ways to end India’s dependence on imports for light metals and aid the country’s ambitious energy initiatives, besides boosting indigenous electric vehicle production, battery production for electronics and medical infrastructure.
For many locals in Salal-Haimana, the discovery may turn their lives around. Many villagers see these rocks as an asset that will change their fortunes and end unemployment.
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