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India’s Lithium-fueled ‘electrifying future’ has a supply chain roadblock, cautions Anand Mahindra

Lithium has been found in India’s Jammu and Kashmir.

Photo : IANS

Industrialist Anand Mahindra on Tuesday cheered the discovery of Lithium reserves in Rajasthan’s Degana–the second such finding after a similar stockpile was found in Jammu & Kashmir earlier this year. He hailed the discovery of the crucial mineral, which is used in the manufacture of laptops, rechargeable batteries, and electric cars, as a signal of India’s “electrifying future”.

“Finally. We have sizeable reserves of a natural resource critical for growth in the 21st century. A signal that India has an ‘electrifying future,’” wrote the Mahindra Group chairman in a Twitter post.

But India needs to “step up quickly”, Mahindra highlighted, if it wants to meaningfully utilise the reserves to tap the rapidly growing global demand for Lithium since “refining, not stockpiles”, is the key in global supply chain logistics, he added.

“But the key element in the supply chain is refining, not reserves, where China has a huge lead. We need to step up quickly to install that capacity,” Mahindra wrote in a Twitter post.

Mahindra’s comments come in the background of several news report, hailing the recent discoveries as a ‘gamechanger’ for India.

Anand Mahindra tweetAnand Mahindra tweet

An IANS report quoting the Geological Survey of India (GSI) and mining officials said the lithium reserves discovered in Rajasthan are more substantial than the recently found lithium reserves in Jammu and Kashmir. The report further claimed that India’s newfound reserves might help in reducing the country’s dependence on China for the mineral as the former ramps up the manufacture of smartphones, batteries, and electric vehicles.

The amount of lithium in Rajasthan could potentially meet up to 80% of India’s total demand, which is a significant development considering India’s reliance on China for lithium. This discovery could potentially break China’s monopoly and position Rajasthan as a key player in the global lithium market, similar to the Gulf countries. This could bring about a significant change in the economic fortunes of Rajasthan, the report further added.

The Renvat hill of Degana, where the Lithium reserves are discovered, is also rich in tungsten, first discovered in 1914 by the British, who exported the mineral to factories in England.

However, the production from the area stopped after cheap Chinese exports of the mineral flooded the world market in 1992-93. This deserted area was once inhabited and had played a crucial role in the development of the country by supplying tungsten for years. It is a poignant reminder of the impact of external economic policies on local industries and their communities, the report added.

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