As the third element in the periodic table, Lithium is a non ferrous, soft metallic element. Lithium is essential in the market of modern technology to make heat-resistant glass and ceramics, lubricants, lithium metal batteries, and lithium-ion batteries. Moreover, it also finds use as a flux additive for iron, steel, and aluminum production. Lithium is important to the manufacturing of smart devices. Globally, the use of technology has increased by manyfold in the past decade.
The dependence on smartphones, laptops, and tablets in households has significantly increased since the pandemic in 2020. Most modern devices and technologies use Lithium-Ion batteries. Thereby, making Lithium metal to have a high global demand. Conversely, only a few countries have lithium reserves. The high demand and low supply has made Lithium the “White Gold” of the global trade markets.
Significance of Lithium to India
Lithium is a crucial component in the production of batteries that are used in a range of applications. Lithium and its products are commonly used in electric vehicles, electronic devices, and renewable energy systems. India is the largest importer of Lithium and Lithium-Ion.
India spent $42.69 million on the import of lithium and on other key commodities to process lithium from April to November in 2022.
The global demand for Lithium and its products will rise in the era of electric vehicles. The production of electric vehicles consumes a majority of India’s lithium imports. The demand of electric vehicles is increasing as the vehicle gains popularity in India due to government incentives and growing environmental concerns.
Significance of Indian Lithium Deposits
Indian imports largely from China, Chile and Australia to fulfill its lithium needs. In February 2023, India discovered a 5.9 million ton lithium reserve in Jammu and Kashmir. This quantity of this reserve places India above China in the list of global suppliers of lithium. On 9th May 2023 an ever larger deposit of lithium reserve was discovered by the Geological Survey of India in Dagana, Rajasthan. This new deposit is said to have the ability to meet nearly 80% of India’s lithium needs.
The discovery of lithium mines in India would boost the Indian economy. It would give India an edge in the global market where the cost of lithium and its key components is on the rise. The easy availability of lithium deposits to Indian companies, would act as a pressure relief valve for the Indian economy. However, India should not rejoice on the shoulders of this discovery. China mines 13% of the world’s lithium. However, it controls approximately 44% of the lithium chemical production in the world. Thus, the new discovery “White Gold” or Lithium may be important to India in terms of availability in the long run; however, it would take many years and a concentrated effort of industries to reduce India’s dependence on the import of Lithium products.