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Daily News Analysis


29th June, 2024 Geography


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Picture Courtesy: https://indianexpress.com/article/business/amid-setbacks-first-signs-of-progress-in-lithium-mining-in-chhattisgarh-9410782/

Context: Extracting lithium from the hard rock granites and pegmatites present in India is challenging.


  • India is making progress in lithium mining, particularly in Chhattisgarh, despite facing several setbacks in other regions.
  • Lithium is a critical mineral primarily used in lithium-ion batteries, which are essential for electric vehicles (EVs), consumer electronics, and energy storage systems. With the increasing global demand for lithium, India is striving to develop its domestic lithium resources and secure assets overseas.


Lithium can be found in various sources such as mineral deposits, brine deposits, mineral springs, and seawater. It is a minor constituent of Earth's crust.

●In the past, the American market dominated lithium production, but by the 21st century, most production came from non-U.S. sources, with Australia, Chile, and Portugal being the largest suppliers.

●The major commercial form of lithium is lithium carbonate, which is produced through various processes.

●It is produced through electrolysis and has various industrial applications, including its use as a scavenger in metal refining and in organic synthesis.

It is also used in non-rechargeable lithium primary batteries and has been extensively researched for high-power rechargeable lithium storage batteries.

○Other applications include its use in lightweight alloys for aerospace applications and in the preparation of compounds such as lithium hydride.

It exhibits chemical properties similar to other alkali metals and alkaline-earth elements. It has various practical applications, including the production of hydrogen gas and the reduction of organic compounds.

●Lithium compounds are used in the production of soaps, lubricating greases, and as absorbents.

It has nuclear properties that make it useful in tritium production and as a heat-transfer fluid for nuclear reactors.

It also has biological properties and is used in the treatment of manic depression.

Progress in Chhattisgarh

In Chhattisgarh's Korba district, the exploration of lithium has advanced significantly:

  • Auction Progress: One block has advanced to the second round of auctions.
  • Promising Deposits: Initial exploration of another block has shown promising lithium deposits.
  • Exploration Findings: A private exploration company, funded by the National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET), found hard rock lithium deposits ranging from 168 to 295 parts per million (ppm) in Korba. Further exploration is expected to provide a more accurate estimate of the reserves.

Setbacks in Other Regions

Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)

Reasi District: The auction of a lithium block was cancelled due to insufficient investor interest. The block was reoffered in a fresh tranche of auctions in March, but it continues to struggle to attract significant interest.

Exploration Results: Preliminary surveys showed lithium concentrations exceeding 200 ppm, but the potentially lower concentration and the need for expensive extraction infrastructure may explain the weak investor interest.


Kamjong District: Exploration efforts were halted due to resistance from local communities. The NMET committee decided to drop the exploration plans for the time being due to these local issues.


Merak Block: Close to the India-China border, exploration yielded discouraging results, leading the NMET committee to recommend dropping the project.


Dhubri and Kokrajhar Districts: Lithium exploration results were not encouraging, prompting the NMET committee to recommend dropping the project.

Challenges in Domestic Lithium Mining

  • Extraction Difficulty: Lithium found in hard rock granites and pegmatites, like those in India, is significantly harder to extract compared to other types of deposits.
  • Investor Interest: Lower lithium concentrations and the need for expensive extraction infrastructure have contributed to weak investor interest in some regions.
  • Mineral Reporting Standards: Inconclusive and non-rigorous mineral reserve reports hinder direct investment in India’s mining sector. Developing robust mineral reporting standards could attract more investment.

Global Ventures and Successes

  • Argentina: Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL), a joint venture of three public sector companies under the Mines Ministry, secured rights to explore, develop, and extract lithium across five blocks in Argentina's Catamarca province.
  • Other Ventures: Several Indian companies, urged by the ministry, are exploring opportunities to secure critical mineral assets in Sri Lanka and Australia.

Way Forward

  • Despite the setbacks and challenges, the progress in Chhattisgarh's Korba district is a positive sign. The global rush for lithium and India's efforts to develop both domestic and overseas resources highlight the critical importance of this mineral for the future of electric vehicles, consumer electronics, and energy storage systems. Developing robust mineral reporting standards and overcoming extraction challenges will be crucial for India to establish a strong foothold in the global lithium market.

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Q. Given India's recent lithium discoveries in Jammu and Kashmir, how might the development of domestic lithium resources impact the country's renewable energy transition and electric vehicle industry, considering the technical and geopolitical challenges in the region?