Lithium reserves

Representational Image

Jammu and Kashmir is no doubt the heaven on earth, not only natural beauty but natural resources as well. While certain states are in a legal tangle with each other over the water of one river, Jammu and Kashmir has so much that, if utilized, it can fulfil many states’ requirements. Similarly, coal mines at Kalakote, sapphire mines at Paddar, and limestone mines at Rajouri and Poonch are in Jammu and Kashmir to prove our UT’s vast resources of different minerals. The latest addition is 5.9 million tonnes of Lithium reserves, found for the first time in the country at Reasi in Jammu and Kashmir. Lithium is scarcely available in few countries only. It is reactive with other metals and is found in crystalline form, not in metal form. To extract Lithium is a tedious water extensive project. Chile leads the world reserves with 8 million tons, followed by Australia with 2.7 million tons, Argentina with 2 million tonnes only and a few other countries with 14 million tonnes in total. 5.9 million tonnes of Lithium at Reasi is a lot by any standard. Lithium has certain unique qualities like lightest metal, low in density, high energy to weight ration with ability to store large amounts of energy. Not only in electric vehicle batteries but it is also used in the batteries of laptops and cell phones and glass as well as ceramic industry also. With these kinds of usages and its scarcity, this discovery is huge by any standards, and India overnight becomes the second-largest country in terms of Lithium reserves. All major automobile companies have direct tie-ups with countries having Lithium reserves, where they invest money to get the metal extracted for use in their vehicles.
Commercially, Lithium comes from two major sources: underground brine deposits and mineral ore deposits. An overwhelming quantity of today’s lithium is extracted from liquid brine reservoirs that are located beneath salt flats, known as salars, most of which are located in south-western South America and China. Recovery of Lithium from brine is typically a lengthy process that can take anywhere from several months to a few years to complete.
Keeping in view of the facts, these deposits at Reasi are commercially viable or not, as only a detailed study and the companies involved in extraction worldwide can tell. This had happened in state of Jammu and Kashmir in the past, Kalakote coal mines and Paddar Saphire mines are commercially not viable and the deposits still remain unused. The other aspect is that the railway line now passes through Reasi unlike in Rajouri-Poonch or Doda-Kishtwar districts, so commercial viability is quite possible in the Reasi mining case. Another important factor is the extensive use of water to extract Lithium from ore. Will extraction be done here itself, or will the ore be taken to some other location for extraction? The most important of all is the fragile ecological system of the Himalayan region; there is already fear of subsidence, and can this area sustain the ore mining? There are too many factors to take into account, but our scientists and engineers will find a way out this time. A game-changing moment for India.