Question: Lithium has become one of the important part of India’s future economy and infrastructure. Discuss. Highlight issues associated with lithium focused approach.
Answer: Lithium metal reserves have been discovered for the first time in Karnataka. Even though the reserves are very less in comparison to global reserves, it is still a very significant discovery.
Currently India plans to extract lithium metal from mica deposits of Odisha and brine pools of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Importance of lithium
- Manufacturing mobile batteries
The lithium metal extracted locally would be used to manufacture batteries for mobile and other electronic gadgets. This will reduce the cost of battery and ultimately the device.
The lithium ion batteries can be used for Electric Vehicles. India plans to use E-vehicles completely from 2030 and lithium is central to the plan.
- Medicinal drug
Lithium compound is used to treat psychological disorders such as depression and mental disorder. This compound will help Indian companies to manufacture drugs for global scale.
Issues associated with lithium approach
- Lack of domestic reserves
Lithium reserves in India are scanty. Majority of the element has to be imported from countries such as Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and China. This is going to be a strain on our foreign reserves.
- Dependence on China
The mining infrastructure in South American countries is not well developed. So majority of our imports are China dependent. Escalation of tensions with China will impact our lithium security.
Lithium metal can be poisonous when used to manufacture batteries. Without proper management water, soil and air can be affected.
The development and promotion of sodium batteries will not only help reduce our lithium dependency but it is also cheaper and non pollutant.
Thus, lithium discovery will indeed be a big advantage for our resource sufficiency but in order to make it count, additional mining has to be conducted.