India has recently made a significant discovery of lithium reserves, a vital element in the production of electric vehicles. The government has announced that 5.9 million tons of the element have been found in Jammu and Kashmir. India has so far relied on imports of lithium from Australia and Argentina.
Lithium is an important ingredient in rechargeable batteries that power various devices such as smartphones and laptops, as well as electric cars. The discovery could support India’s goal of increasing the number of electric vehicles in private ownership by 30% by 2030, as part of their efforts to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.
The lithium reserves were found by the Geological Survey of India in the Salal-Haimana area of the Reasi district in Jammu and Kashmir, according to the Ministry of Mines. In 2021, smaller deposits of lithium were discovered in the southern state of Karnataka. The government has previously stated its intention to improve its supply of rare metals, seeking sources both domestically and internationally.
Vivek Bharadwaj, Secretary of the Ministry of Mines, said that India has been “re-orienting its exploration measures” to meet its goal. The demand for rare metals, including lithium, has increased globally as countries seek to adopt more environmentally friendly solutions to address climate change. In 2023, China signed a $1 billion deal to develop Bolivia’s vast lithium reserves, estimated at 21 million tons and the largest in the world.
The World Bank reports that mining of crucial minerals must increase by 500% to meet global climate targets by 2050. However, the mining process of lithium is not environmentally friendly. Lithium is extracted from hard rocks and underground brine reservoirs, mostly found in Australia, Chile, and Argentina. The roasting process, which requires fossil fuels, damages the environment and leaves scars.
Additionally, the extraction process requires a large amount of water and releases a considerable amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In Argentina, where many underground reservoirs are found in water-scarce regions, the extraction process has led to protests from indigenous communities who argue that it is depleting natural resources and causing acute water shortages.