With lithium considered as the new oil or IMFL, India as in the case of black gold -- crude oil -- is exploring opportunities for investment in lithium mines in Argentina and Australia, even as government-owned organisations continue their hunt within the country.

The Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KABIL), a joint venture of three central government owned companies -- National Aluminium Company Limited, Hindustan Copper Limited and Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited -- under the Ministry of Mines, is exploring opportunities for investment in lithium mines in Argentina and Australia, Pralhad Joshi, Minister of Mines, told the Lok Sabha.

Within the country, during the last five years, the Geological Survey of India (GSI), has carried out 20 projects on lithium and associated elements in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya and Rajasthan.

Lithium ingots with a thin layer of black nitride tarnishWikimedia Commons

During the field season programme 2022-23, the GSI has taken up 18 projects on lithium and associated elements in Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Rajasthan.

However, the resource of lithium has not yet been augmented by the GSI, the government said.

Similarly, the Mineral Exploration & Consultancy Limited, a central PSU, has undertaken an exploration project for lithium in Ladakh.

Further, Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research, a constituent unit of the Department of Atomic Energy is carrying out an exploration for lithium in parts of Mandya and Yadgir districts in Karnataka.

The GSI takes up different stages of mineral exploration viz. reconnaissance surveys (G4), preliminary exploration (G3) and general exploration (G2) as per the guidelines of the United Nations Framework Classification (UNFC) and Minerals (Evidence of Mineral Contents) Amendment Rules, 2021.

World looks at India to break China's monopoly on rare earth mining(IN)
World looks at India to break China's monopoly on rare earth mining.IANS

Out of the 19 lithium exploration projects taken up by the GSI, three have gone up to the G3 stage while the remaining 16 are in the G4 stage.

Recently the Indian government said the GSI has for the first time established lithium inferred resources (G3) of 5.9 million tonnes in Salal-Haimana area of Reasi district of Jammu & Kashmir.

During the last five years, the GSI had taken up the project in Reasi in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

The lithium reserves found in the Salal-Haimana area have given the Indian EV makers a high. It is now said this is the new IMFL - Indian Made Foreign Lithium - as the metal was largely imported. The old IMFL stands for Indian Made Foreign Liquor.

lithium-ion battery, electrode,
Stanford University

The finding of lithium reserves in India will open up many opportunities though the actual realisation of the mined resource may take some years, said M.A.M. Arunachalam also known as Arun Murugappan, Executive Chairman of the multi-product company Tube Investments of India Ltd (TII).

The lithium reserves in India will open up many opportunities including sustenance, local research and development (R&D) on enhancing the battery chemistry and also a reduction in the battery price, he said.

Adding to that Anirudh Ravi Narayanan, CEO & Co-Founder, Bharat New-Energy told IANS: "Definitely it will be good for the industry to have local cell manufacturing and local supply chain feeding the cell manufacturing. Both of these will result in a reduction in the cost of the Li-Ion batteries. My expectation is that we can see cell prices reduce 20-30% due to these, which would lead to vehicle cost reduction of 8-15%."

(With inputs from IANS)