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Looking for lithium toehold, India finds a small deposit in Karnataka

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    11th January, 2021


  • Preliminary surveys by the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), are learnt to have shown the presence of 1,600 tonnes of lithium resources in the igneous rocks of the Marlagalla-Allapatna region of Karnataka’s Mandya district.

What are the potential sites of Lithium deposition in India?

  • The Marlagalla-Allapatna area, along theNagamangala Schist Belt in Karnataka.
  • The brines of Sambharand Pachpadra in Rajasthan
  • Rann of Kachchh in Gujarat
  • The major mica belts in Rajasthan, Bihar, and Andhra Pradesh
  • The pegmatite belts in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, are the other potential geological domains

What are the major global sites of Lithium deposition?

  • Bolivia (21 million tonnes), Argentina (17 million tonnes), Australia (6.3 million tonnes), and China (4.5 million tonnes).

Mineral Resources are sub-divided, in order of increasing geological confidence:

  • Inferred Mineral Resource: It is the part of a mineral resource for which quantity, grade (or quality) and mineral content can be estimated with a low level of confidence. It is inferred from geological evidence and assumed but not verified geological or grade continuity. It is based on information gathered through appropriate techniques from locations such as outcrops, trenches, pits, workings and drill holes which may be of limited or uncertain quality and it is also reliability.
  • Indicated resources: These are simply economic mineral occurrences that have been sampled to a point where an estimate has been made, at a reasonable level of confidence, of their contained metal, grade, tonnage, shape, densities, physical characteristics.
  • Measured resources:  These are indicated resources that have undergone enough further sampling that a 'competent person' usually a geologist has declared them to be an acceptable estimate, at a high degree of confidence, of the grade (or quality), quantity, shape, densities, physical characteristics of the mineral occurrence.

What are the sources of Lithium extraction?

  • Solar evaporation ofConventional lithium brine extraction
  • Solar evaporation of Hard rock / spodumene lithium extraction
  • Hectorite clay
  • Seawater
  • Recycled brines from energy plants
  • Recovered oil field brine
  • Recycled electronics

Significance of the recent exploration

  • Lithium is a vital ingredient of the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs), laptops and mobile phones.
  • India currently imports all its lithium needs.
  • India has stepped up its economic offensive against China, which is a major import nation of India.
  • It is categorised as “inferred”, one of the three categories into which mineral resources are subdivided, in order of increasing geological confidence.