Deposits of lithium have been found in India that could enable the country to loosen its reliance on Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile for its burgeoning lithium-ion battery industry.
Preliminary surveys by the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) have shown around 1,600 tonnes of lithium resources in the igneous rocks of the Marlagalla-Allapatna region of Karnataka’s Mandya district.
However, it is small compared to the proven reserves in Bolivia (21 million tonnes), Argentina (17 million tonnes), Australia (6.3 million tonnes), and China (4.5 million tonnes).
AMD said in a newsletter: “The potential of India for lithium resources is yet to be fully explored. Our exploration efforts in the pegmatites of Nagamangala Schist Belt, Karnataka have brought to light its appreciable lithium potential.”
AMD is carrying out surface and sub-surface exploration for lithium in potential geological domains of the country. The find in Mandya marks initial success in the attempt to domestically mine the material by way of hard-rock extraction of the ore.
Domestic exploration also includes exploratory work to extract lithium from the brine pools of Rajasthan and Gujarat and the mica belts of Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
India is one of the biggest emerging battery markets in the world, but a lack of manufacturing facilities means it had to import $1.2 billion (INR 8,777crore) worth of lithium-ion in 2019.
India imported 713 million lithium-ion batteries from 1 January to 30 November last year, more than doubling imports of the technology within three years.