Alongside a move to tap into the global lithium value chain, India has initiated a concerted domestic exploration in Karnataka’s Mandya district.

  • Preliminary surveys by the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), an arm of the Department of Atomic Energy has carried out the exploration.
  • AMD is carrying out surface and sub-surface exploration for lithium in potential geological domains of the country.
  • Their research has shown the presence of 1,600 tonnes of lithium resources in the igneous rocks of the Marlagalla-Allapatna region of Karnataka’s Mandya district.

Why is the exploration significant?

  • India currently imports all its lithium needs.
  • The find in Mandya is extremely small in quantitative terms, but it marks some initial success in the attempt to domestically mine the silver-white metal by way of hard-rock extraction of the ore.
  • The domestic exploration push comes at a time when India has stepped up its economic offensive against China, a major source of lithium-ion energy storage products being imported into the country.
  • The Marlagalla-Allapatna area is seen as among the most promising geological domains for potential exploration for lithium and other rare metals.

What lies ahead?

  • India is seen as a late mover in attempts to enter the lithium value chain, coming at a time when EVs are predicted to be a sector ripe for disruption.
  • 2021 is likely to be an inflexion point for battery technology – with several potential improvements to the li-ion technology, and alternatives to this tried-and-tested formulation in advanced stages of commercialization.

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