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Lithium mining:

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered: Developments in science and technology.



Serbians have been taking to the streets, blocking main roads and bridges and halting traffic, to protest against Rio Tinto’s plans to mine lithium in the Jadar valley near Lozinca town in the country.



  • As reported by Reuters, the mine would have produced enough lithium to operate one million electric vehicles along with boric acid and sodium sulphate.
  • When fully functional, the mine would have created “58,000 tonnes of refined battery-grade lithium carbonate” every year, which would have made it Europe’s most lithium-producing mine.


What’s the concern?

While the country has already been ridden with industrial pollution, a new mine would only make it worse, polluting the land and water in the area.

  • Serbia has ranked as Europe’s fifth and the world’s 32nd most polluted country in a list of 98 countries.
  • According to a 2019 report by Global Alliance on Health and Pollution, Serbia is one of the top ten countries with the most deaths due to pollution — 175 deaths per 100,000.


About Lithium:

It is a soft, silvery-white metal. Under standard conditions, it is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element.

It is highly reactive and flammable, and must be stored in mineral oil. It is an alkali metal and a rare metal.


Key Characteristics and Properties:

  • It has the highest specific heat capacity of any solid element.
  • Lithium’s single balance electron allows it to be a good conductor of electricity.
  • It is flammable and can even explode when exposed to air and water.



  1. Lithium is a key element for new technologies and finds its use in ceramics, glass, telecommunication and aerospace industries.
  2. The well-known uses of Lithium are in Lithium ion batteries, lubricating grease, high energy additive to rocket propellants, optical modulators for mobile phones and as convertor to tritium used as a raw material for thermonuclear reactions i.e. fusion.


Prescribed substance:

The thermonuclear application makes Lithium as “Prescribed substance” under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 which permits AMD for exploration of Lithium in various geological domains of the country.

  • Under the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, “Prescribed Substance” means any substance including any mineral which the Central Government may, by notification, prescribe, being a substance which in its opinion is or may be used for the production or use of atomic energy or research into matters connected therewith and includes uranium, plutonium, thorium, beryllium, deuterium or any of their respective derivatives or compounds or any other materials containing any of the aforesaid substances.



Prelims Link:

  1. About Lithium.
  2. Properties.
  3. Uses.
  4. Lithium reserves in India.
  5. Lithium reserves across the world.

Mains Link:

Discuss the advantages of lithium ion batteries.

Sources: Indian Express.