India Announces Huge Lithium Discovery – But It Might Be Too Early to Celebrate, Experts Warn

The Indian Ministry of Mines on Thursday announced the discovery of 5.9 million tons of inferred lithium in the Salal-Haimana region of Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district by the Geological Survey of India (GSI).

The discovery could put India on the very short list of the world’s top lithium producers, just as the world’s superpowers race to secure resources for the transition to sustainable energy. Half of the world’s lithium deposits are currently split among three South American Countries: Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile.

Lithium is the key component of batteries used in electronics, solar panels, and electric vehicles. If the GSI’s discovery does lead to usable lithium resources, this could fast-track India’s ascent in the EV industry.

The quantity discovered in India could be the world’s seventh-largest deposit of the rare element, also called “white gold” for its value.

The “Discovery” Isn’t New

But NDTV points out that India could’ve celebrated and leveraged this discovery sooner — about two and a half decades sooner — as the GSI had already submitted a detailed report on lithium in the area, but for some reason, there was no follow-through.

“In view of the persistent lithium values and presence of widespread bauxite column (palaeoplanar surface) at a number of places, the prospect for lithium appears to be quite promising,” the GSI said in their 1997 report.

The report released on February 9, like the previous report, is still preliminary — with the exploration and findings based on the GSI’s previous work. The new report says that the organization established Lithium inferred resources. “Inferred,” as NDTV emphasizes, is “the lowest of three levels of confidence in the estimation of a mineral deposit, behind ‘indicated’ and ‘measured.’”

This means that while the quantity and grade of the resource can be estimated based on geological evidence, the geological and grade continuity can not yet be determined and verified at this stage.

Too Early to Celebrate

Moreover, the organization’s findings are still in the second of four stages of exploration determined by the United Nations Framework Classification for mineral resources. And the next stages will be up to private players.

Mines Secretary Vivek Bharadawaj said that as India isn’t currently equipped with the technology to excavate and process the mineral, the deposits will be auctioned off by the Jammu and Kashmir administration to private players.

“Now it’s for them to go ahead and auction it. And once the private party will come up, they will start the entire process and excavate the mineral,” he said.

Until they complete the four stages, it will not be possible to estimate the economic benefits of the exploration. The quantity of 5.9 million tons — which is a huge chunk of the 98 million tons of global reserves — is still just potential until further data is available.

Information for this briefing was found via NDTV, Wire India, Mining Technology, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

Leave a Reply