The Indian government recently announced the discovery of 5.9 million tons of lithium in the provinces of Jammu and Kashmir, making India a major player in the production of electric vehicles and solar panels. This discovery is significant as it is India’s first major deposit of lithium, with only a small deposit of 1600 tons having been discovered in Karnataka two years ago. The country had previously relied on imports from Australia, Chile, and Argentina for lithium.
The new reserves make India the fifth-largest holder of lithium reserves in the world, surpassing the United States. However, refining lithium ore into a usable form remains a complex process, meaning India will still have to rely on imports for some time.
Lithium is increasingly valued for its use in producing batteries for items such as phones, laptops, and electric vehicles. With the electric vehicle industry projected to reach over $800 billion in annual market size by 2030, the discovery is expected to benefit manufacturing companies in India.
It is also expected to help the Indian government fulfill its promise to increase the number of private electric cars by 30% before 2030. However, the mining and refining of lithium have faced criticism for their significant environmental impact, including contamination of water sources and increased carbon dioxide emissions from the high-temperature heating process.
The majority of the world’s lithium reserves are found in salt flats in Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina, with Bolivia holding the largest reserves. However, the country lacks the infrastructure to extract the mineral, making it a smaller player in lithium production.