In what appears to be a good news for the Electric Vehicle (EV) sector, reserves of lithium have been discovered in Mandya, 100 km from Bengaluru in Karnataka. This find could boost the local manufacturing of EV batteries.
A unit of India's Atomic Energy Commission, Atomic Minerals Directorate estimated lithium reserves of 14,100 tonnes in a small area in Southern Karnataka, as per a paper that will be published in the forthcoming issue of journal Current Science.
"The present data provides a total estimation of available Li2O as about 30,300 tonnes over an area of 0.5 km x 5 km, which works out to about 14,100 tonnes of lithium metal," said N Munichandraiah, Emeritus Professor at the Indian Institute of Science to The Economic Times.
While this comes as welcome news, the reserve is small as compared to major producers such as Chile with its 8.6 million tonnes reserve, Australia with 2.8 million tonnes, Argentina with 1.7 million tonnes, and Portugal with 60,000 tonnes. So, far India has been importing all its lithium requirements.
The Indian government has been pushing for an electric vehicle ecosystem. India's imports of lithium batteries tripled to $1.2 billion in 2019 from $384 million in FY17, as mentioned in the report. In the eight months in 2019, India's lithium battery imports stood at $929 million, as mentioned by Minister of Science and Technology, Harsh Vardhan.
As per the daily, while India requires lithium, the country is yet to etch out a comprehensive plan to map local reserves of lithium. India has set up Khanij Bidesh India Ltd to source and acquire mines in Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.