1.6K tonnes of lithium reserves found in K’taka, may not be commercially viable says DAE

PTI, Feb 10, 2021, 8:19 AM IST

Mumbai: The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) on Tuesday said exploration efforts have so far established 1,600 tonnes of lithium reserves in Karnataka’s Mandya district.

The reserves are classified as being in the ”inferred category,” signifying the low level of confidence, a statement from the city-headquartered DAE said, clarifying recent news reports that pegged the estimates as high as 14,100 tonnes.

The DAE statement acknowledged that Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD) and Geological Survey of India have been carrying out exploration activities in the Allapatna-Marlagalla sector in the Srirangapatna taluk of the district since 2013 as part of a second phase of exploration after the first phase, which lasted from 1979 to 1998.

The 1,600-tonne estimate is a ”preliminary” one, the DAE said, and added that further exploration efforts are required ”to convert the estimated resources to the exploitable category with a high degree of confidence level and explore the possibility of augmenting lithium resources in the area.”

The department made it clear that unless a proper technology or method is available to ”profitably extract lithium from its ore, the real benefit of exploration may not be there.”

The actual economic benefits of the over four-decade-old exploration efforts cannot be estimated at this stage, it added.

The AMD is also carrying out exploration to augment lithium resources in other potential geological domains in the country, the statement said.

Exploration activities to extract lithium from brine pools in Rajasthan and Gujarat, and mica belts of Odisha and Chhattisgarh is in ”preliminary and reconnaissance” stage, it said, confirming reports of exploratory work in the regions.

Lithium is among the elements which are required to support the country’s nuclear programme due to which AMD has been tasked with its exploration, a key for new technologies and used in ceramics, glass, telecommunication and aerospace, besides its usage in batteries, the statement said.

The thermonuclear application makes lithium as a ”prescribed substance” under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, it said, adding that the requirement for the element has increased over the last few years because of the high demand, which has led AMD to intensify its exploration activities.

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