The Centre is expected to invite bids for the newly discovered lithium reserves in Jammu by June, a report in Mint said. The move might give India access to the strategic mineral that is used in mobiles, and electric vehicles (EVs), among others.
"[This is a] G-3 level find, which means we are sure of significant reserves and, hence, starting the process to mine this critical non-ferrous metal soon," an official told Mint.
The United Nations Framework Classification (UNFC) classifies the finds in four stages, namely G4 (reconnaissance), G3 (prospecting), G2 (general exploration) and G1 (detailed exploration), the report added.
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The discovery of 5.9 million tonnes of the metal in Reasi in Jammu and Kashmir has made the country the seventh-largest holder of lithium reserves.
The official added that the Centre would mandate the reserves to be refined domestically only. India currently has no facility to refine lithium.
Lithium is necessary for India to boost its energy transition plans. It is a key component of the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries used in EVs.
Currently, China controls 75 per cent of the world's lithium refining. India's lithium comes from Hong Kong, China and the US. The war has pushed up the metal's cost.
According to Mint, GSI, a consortium of three PSUs, namely, National Aluminium Co., Hindustan Copper and Mineral Exploration Corp, is working to provide a vehicle for research and development for recycling, acquisition and joint manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries.