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India's global lithium dreams take shape in Vaishno Devi's shadow

Till the beginning of 2023, Reasi district in Jammu and Kashmir was known only for the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine situated on the Trikuta Hills, where millions of devotees pay obeisance each year

Vaishno Devi

IANS Jammu
Till the beginning of 2023, Reasi district in Jammu and Kashmir was known only for the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine situated on the Trikuta Hills, where millions of devotees pay obeisance each year.
Hardly could anyone image that the sleepy Salal village located in the backyard of Reasi district would rise to a global dawn in 2023.
It is now time for scientists and miners to arrive in this village on a geological pilgrimage.
On February 9, 2023, the ministry of mines said it has discovered huge deposits of lithium, 5.9 million tonnes in Salal village of Reasi district. The discovery of lithium in Salal village has an interesting history.
A team of Geological Survey of India (GSI) reached Salal village, 77 kms from Jammu city, in 2018 to collect samples for identification of different minerals.
The team stayed in Salal village and kept collecting samples for research, investigation and processing. After more than four years of sustained sample collection, testing and re-testing of collected samples the team of miners discovered that they had hit the jackpot.
Following the guidelines of the United Nations Framework Classification (UNFC) and the Mineral Evidence and Mineral Content Rules, the GSI team performed reconnaissance surveys, preliminary exploration and general exploration.
GSI staff had conducted detailed geophysical work, including borehole logging, drilling and collecting core samples.
The team found that the area where lithium deposits are located is 6 kms long and 3 kms wide.
With the estimated 5.9 million tonnes of reserves in Salal, India will have the fifth-largest lithium reserves in the world, ahead of the US.
The discovery is vital as it comes at a time when India is going all out for a green transition in transportation, where electric vehicle adoption has become a national priority.
The discovery is a boost for the government's Make in India programme as lithium is used in the batteries that power EVs, mobile phones and other applications.
Villagers in Salal believe that the discovery has been possible because of abrogation of Article 370. Villagers argue that after the abrogation of Article 370, the central government as well as various companies showed interest in working and investing in J&K.
The GSI will now demarcate the area, after which the whole village will be fenced.
The entire village will be used for mining and the inhabitants living in hundreds of residential houses will be shifted and rehabilitated by the government with all the modern facilities including education, healthcare, recreation, sports, community welfare etc.
Salal village has a population of 8,000 living in around 2,500 houses.
India has been importing lithium from different countries, including China, Australia and Argentina.
In 2021, smaller deposits of lithium were found in Karnataka, but the recent discovery of this large deposit in Reasi will be a boon for India's battery production plans as the country is exploring green solutions to problems created by climate change etc.
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), global lithium production in 2019 stood at 77,000 tonnes.
With battery manufacturing expected to accelerate over the coming years, particularly as electric vehicles become more prevalent in key markets seeking to decarbonise, interest in the metal will continue to grow and analysts expect worldwide demand will more than double by 2024.
Vivek Bhardwaj, Union mines secretary, recently handed over two Major Mineral Blocks Geological Reports of Lithium Blocks in Jammu Division and G3 Study (Advanced Study) of Lithium, AI and Titanium in Jammu division, located in Reasi District to Secretary Mining J&K, Amit Sharma for taking further necessary action in the matter.
Amit Sharma told reporters that all necessary steps shall be taken in collaboration with the GSI and dedicated teams of the department will work round the clock to ensure that this historical feat of e-auctioning Major Mineral Blocks will take place in a time bound manner.
"Lithium blocks which are a rare thing and a much demanded global major mineral for electric batteries which is the future, shall be explored and e-auctioned so that J&K figures on the global map so far as availability of lithium reserves in the world is concerned," Sharma told reporters.
--IANS
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(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Feb 25 2023 | 12:20 PM IST

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