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GSI Discovers Lithium Resources in J&K

Feb 14, 2023

GSI Discovers Lithium Resources in J&K

Today’s edition of our Current Affairs will comprise a discussion on GSI Discovers Lithium Resources in J&K. Read further to upgrade your UPSC CSE knowledge and also understand the topic’s relevance to the UPSC syllabus.

For Prelims: Economic Geography

Lithium inferred resources (G3), Geological Survey of India (GSI), United Nations Framework for, Classification for Solid Fuels and Mineral Commodities Reserves and Resources (UNFC 1997), Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

For Mains: GS Paper I (Distribution of key natural resources across the world)

Highlights of the recent finding, About Inferred Resources, About Lithium, Lithium in India, and Potential Lithium reserves in India.


Recently, lithium inferred resources (G3) of 5.9 million tonnes have been established in the Salal-Haimana area of Reasi District of Jammu and Kashmir by the Geological Survey of India (GSI).

  • These resources have been established as part of the “Reasi Sersandu-Kherikot-Rahotkot-Darabi” mineral block.

Probable Question

Explain the significance of Lithium ‘inferred’ resources that were recently discovered in Jammu and Kashmir. (150 words, 10 marks)

Highlights of the Recent Finding

  • The finds include lithium, bauxite (the ore for aluminum), and rare earth elements.
  • There are two caveats with the latest lithium find such as first, the new find is categorized as “inferred” and second, the lithium found in J&K.

About Inferred Resources

  • The term “inferred” is one of three categories that mineral resources are subdivided into, in order of increasing geological confidence.
  • The “inferred” mineral resource is the portion of a mineral resource that can only be estimated with a low degree of certainty in terms of quantity, grade, and mineral content.
  • It is based on data collected from sites like outcrops, trenches, pits, workings, and drill holes, which may be of varying quality and lesser dependability than geological evidence.
  • The system is based on the United Nations Framework for Classification for Solid Fuels and Mineral Commodities Reserves and Resources (UNFC 1997).

About UNFC:

It stands for the United Nations Framework for Classification for Solid Fuels and Mineral Commodities Reserves and Resources (UNFC 1997).

Background: UNFC-1997 is the result of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) initiative in 1990.

Objective: To develop a simple, user‐friendly, uniform system for classifying and reporting reserves and resources of solid fuels and mineral commodities. 

UNFC‐1997 was endorsed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 1997.  

In 2004, UNFC was renamed the UNFC for Fossil Energy and Mineral Resources 2004 (UNFC‐2004) to extend the classification to petroleum (oil and natural gas) and uranium.

Classification under UNFC for mineral deposit:

Stage 1: Reconnaissance (G4)
Stage 2: Preliminary exploration (G3)
Stage 3: General Exploration (G2)
Stage 4: Detailed Exploration (G1)

About Lithium

  • Lithium (Li) is a chemical element with atomic number 3. 
  • It is a soft, silvery-white metal that is highly reactive and flammable. Thus it is also known as ‘white gold’.
  • Significance: This is part of a concerted domestic exploration push for the alkali metal, a vital ingredient of the Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs), laptops, and mobile phones. 

Lithium in India

  • India currently imports all its lithium needs. 
  • China is a major source of lithium-ion energy storage products being imported into India.
  • Over 165 crore lithium batteries are estimated to have been imported into India between FY17 and FY20 at an estimated import bill of upwards of $3.3 billion.
  • Thus to reduce dependence on China, domestic exploration is pushed that includes exploratory work to extract lithium from the brine pools of Rajasthan and Gujarat and the mica belts of Odisha and Chhattisgarh
  • The move to ink sourcing pacts for lithium is seen as another salvo in the front against imports from China, the major source of both the raw material and cells. 
  • During the last five years, the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has carried out 14 projects on lithium and associated elements, of which five projects on lithium and associated minerals were taken up in 2021-22.
  • 2023 is likely to be an inflection point for battery technology, with several potential improvements to the Li-ion technology.
About Geological Survey of India (GSI):The Geological Survey of India (GSI) was set up in 1851 primarily to find coal deposits for the Railways.

Functions: The main functions of GSI relate to the creation and updation of national geoscientific information and mineral resource assessment. 

Working: These objectives are achieved through ground surveys, air-borne, and marine surveys, mineral prospecting and investigations, multi-disciplinary geoscientific, geo-technical, geo-environmental and natural hazards studies, glaciology, seismotectonic study, and carrying out fundamental research. 

Significance: The outcome of the work of GSI has immense societal value. The functioning and annual programs of GSI assume significance from the national perspective.

Development: Over the years, it has not only grown into a repository of geo-science information required in various fields in the country but has also attained the status of a geo-scientific organization of international repute. 

Potential Lithium reserves in India

  • Mica belts in brines of Sambhar and Pachpadra areas in Rajasthan, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Rann of Kutch, Gujarat.
  • The pegmatite belts in Odisha, Chhattisgarh.
  • Rock mining is being undertaken at Mandya, Karnataka.

Way Forward

At present, the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), an arm of the Department of Atomic Energy, has been carrying out exploration.

  • The survey is both on the surface and some subsurface exploration, to augment lithium resources in the potential geological domains of the country.

News Source: The Indian Express

Frequently Asked Questions

Which country has the largest lithium reserves?

Chile to a significant extent boasts the world's greatest lithium reserves. With reserves anticipated to total 6.2 million metric tonnes in 2022, Australia ranks second. Mineral reserves are those that could have been produced or extracted at the time of estimation.

Does India have lithium reserves?

Potential Lithium reserves that India has:

  • Mica belts in brines of Sambhar and Pachpadra areas in Rajasthan, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Rann of Kutch, Gujarat.
  • The pegmatite belts in Odisha, Chhattisgarh.
  • Rock mining is being undertaken at Mandya, Karnataka.

How long will lithium reserves last?

As per a projection, we will be extracting several million tonnes of lithium annually, so we need to consider recycling it rather than keeping on extracting it from the earth, by 2030. It is due to the finite nature of the lithium deposit. 

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