India discovers massive Lithium reserves in Rajasthan, larger than Jammu and Kashmir, says expert

India’s progress towards net zero emissions has received another boost with the Geological Survey of India (GSI) discovering lithium reserves in Degana (Nagaur), Rajasthan. This discovery comes just three months after the Jammu and Kashmir region revealed 5.9 million tonnes of lithium reserves. Although the reserve’s capacity has not been disclosed, Rajasthan’s government officials have claimed that the state’s reserves are even larger than the previous find. 

Lithium, often referred to as “white gold,” has become a priority metal for India, especially given its ambitious targets of achieving 30% electric vehicle sales of total new vehicle sales and increasing non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030.

Prahalathan Iyer, the Chief General Manager of Research and Analysis at India Exim Bank, stated that the lithium-ion battery market in India is projected to expand significantly from 2.6 GWh in FY2021 to 116 GWh by FY2030. According to a report by JMK Research and The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, electric vehicles (EVs) are expected to make up 90% of the market’s overall growth.

It is reported that the lithium reserves discovered in Rajasthan are located in the Renvat hill of Degana and the surrounding area, which was once a source of tungsten mineral supply for the country. However, this confirmation of the presence of lithium reserves is not a recent development.

Lithium, a metal initially considered non-glamorous, was discovered in Jammu & Kashmir, India in 1999. At that time, the usage of lithium was primarily confined to specialty chemicals, glass, and pharmaceuticals sectors. It was more feasible to import the metal to fulfill these demands rather than investing in its exploration and mining.

Due to the increasing emphasis on electric vehicles for the purpose of minimizing carbon emissions, lithium has now become the most highly coveted material. Additionally, the Indian government opted not to pursue lithium mining due to its resource-intensive nature and lack of profitability.

According to Varun Goenka, CEO and Co-Founder of Chargeup, with the recent discovery of substantial lithium deposits in Rajasthan, along with the previously known reserves in Jammu and Kashmir, India is in a favorable position to become the third biggest market for electric vehicles within the next four years.

Goenka added that, India’s EV industry has faced a significant challenge due to the high cost of batteries, which are mostly supplied by China. Nevertheless, the ‘Make in India’ campaign and the discovery of lithium reserves have provided India with the opportunity to decrease its reliance on foreign nations and stabilize the volatile price of lithium. As a result, not only can India fulfill its own lithium requirements, but it can also export it to other nations, paving the way for a bright future for the country’s EV industry.

At present, China has a dominant position in lithium mining and processing, despite not having the largest lithium reserves. In order to reduce India’s dependence on neighboring countries, particularly Hong Kong and China, where India currently lacks a domestic lithium supply chain, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) conducted 14 projects on lithium and related elements in various Indian states from 2016-17 to 2020-21, including Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Karnataka, and Rajasthan.

In the 2021-22 period, the GSI has initiated five new projects on lithium and associated minerals in Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, and Rajasthan. As a result, the Ministry of Mines has confirmed that there are 5.9 million tons of lithium reserves in Jammu & Kashmir.