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#82: Lithium in India | Raesi (JnK) in News
Relevant notes for UPSC
Note: 5.9 million tons of Lithium is inferred reserve. It means, this is preliminary exploration stage and nothing is YET confirmed. Nevertheless, why’s this development significant, how’s Lithium important for the world of science, technology, environment and geopolitics? Learn all of it here!
First, why’s discovery significant?
Li-ion batteries are of wide use in Electric Vehicles, Solar Panels, and other elements of green economy.
How will JnK reserve help?
Advance plan of 30% EV in pvt. cars, 70% commercial vehicles & 80% for 2-3 wheelers
Supports National Mission on Transformative Mobility & Battery Storage
Global electric vehicle market to reach $823.75bn by 2030
India imports almost all of Li from Australia and Argentina
India imports 70% Li-ion cell from China and Hong Kong
China controls 77% global Li-ion battery manufacturing capacity
Demand of critical metals like Li & Cobalt is expected to rise by 500% by 2050
Geostrategic concerns | The global games
Critical minerals to be as important as oil and gas in the near future
High dependence on China for Li & derivatives pose energy security risks
eg: Canada asked Chinese companies to divest from Canadian Li-mining companies
Indo-China tensions and ‘race’ among two developing countries
Domestic insurgency & terrorism concerns owing to sensitive location of JnK
Li extraction from hard rock mines entails open-pit mining & roasting ore using fossils
This process consumes 170 cubic metres of water & released 15 tons of CO2 for every 1 ton Li extracted
Open pit mining, refining, waste disposal etc. degrade environment, depletes & contaminates water, diminishes biodiversity, and source air pollution.
JnK sits on Himalayas; the youngest mountain range in the world which is also unstable.
Land sinking cases in different places of Himalayas is well known!
Potential harm to Chenab owing to open pit mining
What’s happening in the world?
India shall take lessons from South America where the Lithium Triangle exists in ABC countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile)
Here, indigenous resistance & increased awareness of Li-mining prompted stronger regulatory role
Brands like Mercedes-Benz & Volkswagen turned away looking for Li mined with lower socio-ecological impact
Indian safeguard scenario
Amended version of Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act 1957
Act gives for District Mineral Foundation (DMF)
A non-profit, statutory, ‘trust’ for every district impacted by mining
To work for interest & benefit of persons and areas impacted by mining related operations
In practice, DMFs are sites of centralized bureaucratic control with less accountability and no public participation
In Jharkhand, the 1500cr+ funds of DMF u/ CAG scanner
Weakened EIA framework (as per some environmentalists & activists)
Explore and extract in public interest
Preempt any serious environmental & social problems
Effective use of Li reserves majorly for most important parts of renewable energy transition
Agenda of just transition must be to reduce luxury consumption and promoting public transport
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