The country’s first discovery of lithium reserves in Jammu and Kashmir is of the best quality, a senior government official said here on Saturday, as optimistic villagers expressed hope that the discovery would bring them a bright future.
The Geological Survey of India (GSI) has discovered reserves of 5.9 million tonnes of lithium, an important mineral in the manufacture of electric vehicles and solar panels, in the Reasi district.
“Lithium is a key resource category, which was not available in India earlier and we depended on 100% of its imports. GSI’s G3 (Advanced) study showed that there is a large amount of the best quality lithium at the foot of Mata Vaishno Devi in Salal village (Reasi) shrine,” JK Mining Amit secretary Sharma told PTI.
With lithium found at J&K in grades of more than 500 ppm relative to normal grades of 220 parts per million (PPM), India’s availability of 5.9 million tonnes of stocks would exceed China’s, he said.
“Following this discovery, India joins a select group of countries across the globe that will realize Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ (a self-reliant India),” he said.
Mr Sharma said lithium was widely used and it was discovered during India’s G20 presidency, giving JK the opportunity to showcase its vast reserves.
Asked about a possible timeline for starting extraction, he said each project requires its own time. “We did the G3 level studies and will now be doing the G2 and G1 level studies before the final extraction of the metals.”
“Everything will be done as soon as possible and we will work with GSI and fully support this historic feat,” he said.
The official assured people that the sanctuary would be a game-changer for them, as under the government’s industrial policy, local young people are given priority in any project.
“Local youth, whether skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled, will be part of the project. Those affected by the project will be fully compensated and rehabilitated as per the regulations,” he said.
People living in the villages surrounding the site are excited about the discovery.
“This is a very happy moment for all of us and we are proud. After the railway project and the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine being a major source of employment for the locals, this project will be a game changer for us,” Salal Vice Chairman Sarpanch Rajinder Singh said.
Salal is home to the Salal Hydroelectric Power Station, a river hydropower project on the Chenab River. Salal is located on the way to the model Chenab railway bridge under construction, which is 359 meters high, 30 meters higher than Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower.
Another villager, Jaspal Singh, who claimed to have worked on the GSI survey team, said they surveyed the hills for the past two years and returned about three months ago.
He said: “We are fortunate to be part of this project, which will create ample employment opportunities for local people. We salute the hard work of the survey team, especially given the dire situation during the outbreak of the corona pandemic.” Team Member died during the investigation”.
Senior leader of the Democratic Azad Party (DAP) and former minister Jugal Kishore Sharma congratulated the people on the discovery of the lithium reserves and urged the government to ensure employment of local youth in the project.
“The metal mining industry should be established in Reasi and the local people should be involved,” said a former member of Reasi’s Legislative Assembly.
The lower Himalayas, which straddle Jammu and Kashmir, also need to be fully explored, he said.
(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)
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