Salal Lithium – The Battery of Indian Economy

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Lithium Deposits of Salal-Haimana is a Jackpot for Indian Economy and the Future of Jammu and Kashmir

           Dr.Ashaq Hussain

When your cars need juice lithium is the thing to use. The days of petrol and diesel cars are numbered. In a decade or so their sale will be minimised and might be banned as of 2035-40 in most of the metropolitan cities as the lithium has the power to offer this change and electric cars will become the norm. Since, EVs run on lithium batteries, each containing about 10 kilos of the metal, thus the future of any region will depend upon this white gold and Jammu and Kashmir is the luckiest one as we too have about to join this white gold rush.

The Government has made a historic discovery in the mineral-rich region of Jammu and Kashmir, for the first time ever, the country has found lithium deposits in this area. According to the Mines Ministry, the Salal-Haimana area of Reasi District has approximately 5.9 million tonnes of lithium reserves. This information was revealed recently during the 62nd meeting of the Central Geological Programming Board (CGPB).

The lithium deposits found in Jammu and Kashmir are the first such deposits discovered in India and are expected to give a major fillip to the country’s self-sufficiency in Electric Vehicle (EV). A non-ferrous metal, lithium is one of the key components used in EV batteries for electric vehicles.

Till now India used to import the lithium required for EV Battery production but now this discovery could lead to not only a reduction in India’s dependence on foreign countries but also bring down the cost of such batteries in the future. The discovery is likely to make India truly ‘Atmanirbhar’ while also creating jobs, generating revenue, and furthering its renewable energy ambitions thereby will directly boost the Indian economy.

Not only the EVs batteries; Lithium has a broad range of other uses in our modern world, encompassing both chemical and technical applications. It is used to make soap and lubricant greases, to produce heat resistant glass and ceramics such as stove tops, and to manufacture aircraft. It is also used to make fireworks: lithium mixed with strontium salts and other chemicals creates a vibrant red colour upon combustion.

A lesser-known application of lithium today is as a treatment for mental health. Lithium carbonate, most often sold as a pharmaceutical, is a common treatment of bipolar disorder and manic depression, helping to stabilise and boost mood. Studies have even found that lithium in drinking water correlates with lower levels of suicide, although psychiatrists are careful about prescribing lithium in high doses, due to unknown effects it can have on the body.

Thus the discovery of lithium deposits in J&K is a positive step for the state and the as lithium has a bright future in India. Surging demand, driven primarily by the use of lithium batteries, plus an abundant supply and adequate infrastructure in place to mine this resource means we are well placed to reap the benefits of lithium over the next decade or so.  Thus, it has the potential to drive economic growth and boost the country’s mineral resources and thereby the economy of the country.

But a million-dollar question to ponder over is that- from time immemorial the Mineral resource sector has played a vital role in the world economy and human development, So, will the Mineral riches really good for J&K too; will 5.9 million tonesof Lithium reserves change the economy of Jammu and Kashmir and especially the future of residents of Reasi District.

Usually minerals mining industry supports a good number of jobs and metal mining job is one of the highest paying in the private sector. Prospects are thus bright for the unemployed youth who choose entering the field, but only when the preference will be given to the locals as the sky touching unemployment data of the state demands the same as hundreds of thousands of people with diverse backgrounds are in search for work.

Therefore, by supporting thousands of jobs and providing essential raw materials, lithium mining is critical to our economy. Thus no doubt 5.9 million tones of Lithium reserves of Jammu and Kashmir is without any doubt a Jackpot to Indian economy but on the other side it will pave a way for private sector Jobs for the unemployed youths of the region thereby will be a source to generate and boost the economy in the region.

Other good things associated with the mining for the region will be the infrastructural,  technological and productivity gains that will also transform other sectors although we will consider one of the biggest and most positive impacts of mining to boosts in jobs, wages and community funding that mining companies make to local towns and regions where locals strive for opportunities and mining can provide that besides bringing greater employment prospects and economic activity to remote populations.

In short, I have no doubt to conclude with it that although the Lithium reserve of Jammu and Kashmir is a Jackpot to Indian economy but side by side will boost the economy and future development of Jammu and Kashmir in general and that of Salal-Haimana area of Reasi District in particular.

The writer is Associate Professor at Govt. Degree College Chatroo and can be reached at [email protected]

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