Lithium reserves in Jammu and Kashmir yield pure battery-grade lithium carbonate
This could give a fillip to the EV industry.
India's electric vehicle (EV) industry is on the verge of a groundbreaking transformation, as the highly anticipated discovery of 5.9 million metric tonnes of inferred lithium reserves in Jammu and Kashmir finally comes to fruition. Initial samples extracted from these reserves have yielded pure battery-grade lithium carbonate, signalling a potential revolution in the country's EV sector.
Nitin Gupta, CEO and Co-founder of Attero Recycling, an end-to-end e-waste management and Li-ion recycling solution provider stated, "We've taken samples from the J&K mine and have already extracted pure battery-grade lithium carbonate. Not just good quality, but the best quality." Attero Recycling, which boasts tie-ups with nearly 90% of automobile original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in India, serves a diverse range of global clients in the electronics, automobile OEM, battery cell manufacturing, and energy storage system (ESS) pack sectors.
In February of this year, India announced the discovery of 5.9 million metric tonnes of inferred lithium reserves at the G3 stage in Jammu and Kashmir, marking a significant milestone as the first such discovery in the country. The United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) categorises mineral deposit exploration into four stages: reconnaissance (G4), preliminary exploration (G3), general exploration (G2), and detailed exploration (G1). The government, in fact, is accelerating the entire process and wants auctioning of the lithium mineral block in Jammu and Kashmir.
This recent exploratory breakthrough in identifying lithium reserves assumes great significance as India's EV sector remains heavily reliant on imports, particularly from China, to meet its lithium demands. If these discoveries prove successful, India could substantially reduce its dependence on costly imports and potentially emerge as an exporter in the long run.
India has set ambitious targets to increase the share of EV sales in various vehicle categories by 2030. The vision includes 30% of private cars, 70% of commercial vehicles, 40% of buses, and 80% of two- and three-wheelers being electric. In absolute numbers, this translates to a staggering 80 million EVs on Indian roads by 2030. Data from the Commerce Ministry indicates that India imported lithium and lithium-ion worth Rs 18,763 crore during April–January FY23.
Currently, Australia produces 47% of the world's lithium, with Chile producing 30% and China producing 15%. However, China dominates the lithium processing sector, handling 58% of the world's lithium, while Chile processes 29% and Argentina 10%.
Pralhad Joshi, union minister of coal, mines, and parliamentary affairs, said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha in July that "India is capable of developing technologies for the beneficiation of lithium ore into lithium mineral concentrate. Successful experimentation has been done for the extraction of lithium from mineral concentrate on a laboratory scale".
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