Lithium has emerged as a priority metal for India given its being a part of non-fossil fuel energy whose capacity is going to increase by 500-gigawatt by 2030

In February when Geological Survey of India (GSI) announced that it discovered 5.9million tonnes inferred resources of lithium in Salal-Haimana area of Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir, it was like a music to the ears of millions of Indians who wanted to see the country in the select group of nations with metals like lithium and cobalt as critical resources. In fact, with this discovery, India prides itself having the seventh largest resource of lithium globally.

Considered as game changers because of their inherent capabilities to transition a country into a green economy, lithium, and cobalt are expected to see a rise in their demand by nearly 500% by 2050, suggests a World Bank report. The most important use of lithium is in rechargeable batteries for mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras, and electric vehicles. It is also used for making non-rechargeable batteries for heart pacemakers, toys, and clocks.

Importance of lithium for India

Often referred to as ‘White Gold’ because of its market value and its silver colour, lithium has emerged as a priority metal for India given its being a part of non-fossil fuel energy whose capacity is going to increase by 500-gigawatt by 2030. Besides, by 2025, the sale of electric vehicles is projected to reach 4-5 million units in India. Lithium batteries play a key role in powering electric vehicles.

According to the Ministry of Transport’s ‘Vahan Portal,’ electric vehicles’ registration in the country increased to 1.02 million in 2022 from merely 0.329 million in 2021, almost a threefold increase. If Minister of State for Heavy Industries, Krishna Pal Gurjar is to be believed, Indians bought 2.17 million electric vehicles till March 15 this year. It suggests that demand for lithium-ion batteries in India’s electric vehicles is increasing.

Lithium presence in India

Lithium presence has been identified not only in Jammu and Kashmir, but also in Karnataka and other Indian states. Last year on March 21, Union Minister of Coal, Mines and Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi told Rajya Sabha that preliminary surveys on surface and limited subsurface exploration by Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), a constituent unit of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), have shown presence of lithium resources of 1,600 tonnes (inferred category) in Karnataka.

The Geological Survey of India took up 14 projects on lithium and associated elements in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Karnataka, Rajasthan between Field Season Programme (FSP) 2016-17 to FSP 2020-21. The GSI also carried out 5 projects on lithium and associated minerals in Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan during FSP 2021-22.

Promotion of lithium-ion batteries’ production in India

In May 2021, India approved the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for manufacturing of Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) in the country. The main objective of providing PLI scheme is to facilitate reduction of import dependence of lithium-ion batteries. Under this scheme, the government has offered an outlay of Rs 18,100 crore for a period of five years.

The PLI scheme envisages establishing a competitive ACC battery manufacturing set-up in the country (50 Giga Watt hour-GWh). Additionally, 5 GWh of niche ACC technologies is also covered under the scheme. The scheme proposes a production linked subsidy based on applicable subsidy per KWh and percentage of value addition achieved on actual sales made by the manufacturers who set up production units.

FDI in battery manufacturing sector

India has allowed 100% FDI in electric mobility and encouraged domestic manufacturing of battery packs. Due to this, investment has been pouring into this sector of India with internationally known companies like Suzuki, Toshiba and Denso from Japan making substantial investments in the country’s market. The move is part of India’s plan to make it a global manufacturing hub and leading player in the electric vehicle market.

As per a report by consulting firm, Arthur D Little, India’s lithium-ion battery demand is currently 3 GWh and is expected to grow to 20Gwh by 2026 and 70 GWh by 2030. Currently, India caters to 70% of its demand for lithium-ion batteries through imports, mainly from China and Hong Kong. Such a huge dependency on China for lithium-ion batteries is perceived to be a source of energy security risks.

It is said that discovery of lithium in Jammu and Kashmir will not only address such energy security risks, but also jump ahead of China in terms of lithium stockpile.


The recent discovery of lithium reserves in Jammu and Kashmir is a significant step towards achieving energy security and environmentally friendly transportation in India. The Indian government has taken a comprehensive approach towards the growth of the battery sector, with initiatives such as the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles (FAME) and Khanij Bidesh India Ltd (KABIL), providing opportunities for foreign investors to invest in this growing sector. India's lithium reserves and the government's initiatives bode well for the country's energy security and economic growth in the coming years.

*The author is a Surat-based journalist; views expressed are her own