Large lithium reserves have been discovered by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) in Rajasthan’s Degana, following a similar discovery in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi. Officials claim that these reserves could fulfill up to 80% of India’s demand for lithium and are believed to be larger than those found in Jammu and Kashmir. This is the first time that such reserves have been found in Degana.
More About the News
- The same area in Rajasthan’s Degana, where tungsten minerals were once supplied to India, has now yielded a discovery of lithium reserves.
- The hill of Renwat in Degana is where tungsten was discovered during British rule in 1914.
- During World War I, tungsten mined here was used to manufacture war materials for the British Army.
- Post-independence, it was also used for making surgical instruments in the healthcare sector.
- The discovery of lithium reserves in the same area has the potential to meet up to 80% of India’s demand for the mineral.
- The World Bank has reported that the worldwide demand for lithium metal is expected to increase by 500% by the year 2050. With this in mind, having substantial reserves of lithium will support India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.
What is Lithium?
- Lithium is a soft, silvery-white metal with the symbol Li and atomic number 3, that is part of the alkali metal group.
- It is the lightest metal and has the lowest density of all metals that are solid at room temperature.
- It is so soft that it can be cut with a vegetable knife and so light that it can float in water.
- It is highly reactive and is not found in nature in its elemental form, but instead is commonly found in the form of minerals or salts.
Uses and Significance
- Batteries: Lithium is a crucial component of the rechargeable batteries used in electronic devices such as laptops, smartphones, and electric vehicles. It is preferred due to its lightweight, high energy density, and long-lasting charge.
- Medication: Lithium is used in the treatment of bipolar disorder and depression. It can help to stabilize mood and prevent episodes of mania or depression.
- Industrial use: Lithium is used in the production of glass, ceramics, lubricants, and as a heat-resistant material.
- Nuclear energy: Lithium is used as a coolant in nuclear reactors.
- Aerospace: Lithium is used in the aerospace industry due to its high energy density, which is necessary for spacecraft and satellites.
- Defense: Lithium is used in the production of lightweight alloys, such as aluminum-lithium alloys, which are used in the aerospace and defense industries.
Lithium is widely referred to as “White Gold” due to its increasing demand in the production of electric vehicles. The global value of one ton of lithium is around Rs 57.36 lakh. Overall, the significance of lithium is growing as the demand for rechargeable batteries and clean energy sources increases. Its importance in modern technology and medicine cannot be overstated.
Lithium Reserves in the World
Lithium is a highly demanded metal used in various industries, including electric vehicles, smartphones, and renewable energy systems. Here are some of the countries with the largest reserves of lithium in the world:
- Chile: The country has the largest known lithium reserves, accounting for approximately 58% of the world’s total.
- Australia: Australia has the second-largest lithium reserves, with estimated reserves of around 14%.
- Argentina: Argentina has the third-largest lithium reserves, with approximately 8% of the world’s total.
- China: China has approximately 7% of the world’s lithium reserves.
- The “Lithium Triangle” is a region located in South America, covering parts of Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, which holds more than 75% of the world’s lithium reserves.
- This region is called the “Lithium Triangle” because it accounts for more than half of the world’s known lithium reserves.
- The region’s lithium reserves are concentrated in salt flats or “salars” that are found at high elevations in the Andes Mountains.
- The lithium-rich brine found in these salars is extracted through a process that involves pumping it to the surface and evaporating the water, leaving behind the lithium carbonate that is used in the production of batteries.
- The Lithium Triangle is considered a strategic resource for the global production of batteries used in electric vehicles and renewable energy storage systems.
Lithium Reserves in India
- Karnataka previously had a minor lithium reserve, but the latest discovery in Rajasthan is the first significant find of its kind in India
- The discovery is attributed to the mines ministry’s renewed focus on rare earth metals, as lithium is a key component of electric vehicle batteries
- The government is actively searching for rare metal reserves both domestically and internationally
- The Geological Survey of India (GSI) is involved in this effort
- A consortium of three Public-sector Undertaking companies, including National Aluminium Company, Hindustan Copper, and Mineral Exploration Corp, is also involved in the research and development of lithium-ion batteries through recycling, acquisition, and joint manufacturing efforts.
- In February 2023, the Geological Survey of India announced that they had discovered 5.9 million tonnes of Lithium inferred resources in the Salal-Haimana area of the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir. This marks the first time that significant Lithium reserves have been found in the region.
India’s Dependency on China For Lithium
- India relies on imports for many key minerals like lithium, nickel, and cobalt.
- China processes more than half of the world’s lithium.
- In 2020-21, India imported more than Rs 6,000 crore worth of lithium, with more than Rs 3,500 crore coming from China.
- The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has identified the potential for lithium deposits in other areas of Rajasthan, including Barmer and Jaisalmer.
- The GSI survey team is speeding up their exploration work to find more lithium reserves in India.
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