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Can India's Discovery of First Lithium Deposits Drive It Into Electric Vehicle Fast Lane?

© AP Photo / Altaf QadriA model poses as she sits inside a Lohia concept electric auto rickshaw at the Auto Expo in Greater Noida, near New Delhi, India, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.
A model poses as she sits inside a Lohia concept electric auto rickshaw at the Auto Expo in Greater Noida, near New Delhi, India, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. - Sputnik India, 1920, 16.02.2023
Lithium, also known as white gold, plays a crucial role in the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles. By 2030, the annual market for electric vehicles will be worth more than $800Bln.
The Geological Survey of India revealed last week that for the first time in the country, they have discovered vast lithium deposits.
About 5.9Mln tons of this metal - a mineral crucial for electric vehicles to function - were located in the Reasi District of Jammu and Kashmir union territory.

Why Is Lithium Crucial For Electric Vehicles?

Lithium is a rare mineral, with 98Mln tons available globally. Bolivia is believed to have the highest stash with 21Mln tons, followed by 20Mln tons in Argentina, 12Mln tons in the US, 11Mln tons in Chile, 7.9Mln tons in Australia, 6.8Mln tons in China and 3.2Mln tons in Germany.
India can now boast that it has 5 percent of the world's total resource.
Lithium not only plays a vital role in batteries for electric vehicles, but minerals are crucial for harnessing solar and wind energy.
Sputnik spoke with experts to assess how the discovery will help India in its net zero carbon goal by spurring the production of electric vehicles in the country.

The News is Good, But Long Journey Ahead, Experts Say

Moushumi Mohanty, senior program manager at the Centre for Science and Environment, told Sputnik that Lithium falls into the "inferred category", by which he meant that its tonnage and grade can be estimated only with a low level of confidence.
"More information will be needed on the quality, density and physical characteristics from various locations before we can evaluate the economic viability of the deposit and get started with mining and extraction," Mohanty said.

Aarti Khosla, the founder of Climate Trends, said that if this discovered Lithium reserve can be extracted, "these deposits will give a big push towards the implementation of electric vehicle plans in India and put India in a powerful position by becoming self-reliant in developing the technology around it".

According to Siddharth Goel, Senior Policy Advisor at the International Institute for Sustainable Development: "International experience shows that - the environment permitting - mine development can take 10 years or more."

He pointed out that India can't count on the newly discovered Lithium until 2030 at the earliest.

In 2020-21, India imported INR 1.73Bln ($141Mln) of Lithium and INR 88.11Mln of lithium-ion. India's lithium discovery will advance the federal government's Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant nation) campaign.
India's electric vehicle market is dependent on imported cells from China, namely from Taiwan.