'Research on lithium deposits in initial stage'

Research on lithium deposits in initial stage, say scientists

The scientists had earlier unearthed Columbite-tantalite, Niobium tantalum and other minerals used in nuclear power generation

A mineral processing unit at Allapattana in Srirangapatna taluk, Mandya district. Credit: DH Photo

The search for lithium at Allapattana and Maralagala villages in Srirangapatna taluk in the district is in the initial stage, Atomic Minerals Directorate (AMD) for Exploration and Research scientists have said.

Recently, Union Minister Jitendra Singh, in a written reply to Davangere MP G S Siddeshwar, had said that preliminary surveys have shown the presence of lithium resources of 1,600 tonnes (inferred category) in the pegmatites of Maralagala and Allapattana. 

On condition of anonymity, a scientist, involved in the research on the outskirts of Allapattana, said, “Rare minerals have been identified in the hillocks around Karighatta. Possibilities of lithium traces are more. A report will be submitted to the Department of Atomic Energy and the Prime Minister’s Office on the extent of deposits, lithium content and economic viability of mineral extraction”.

“Lithium is used in battery-operated cars and mobile phone batteries. It has the capacity to hold electricity for a longer time. Research is being conducted on the hillocks at Allapattana and Maralagala to find the resources. The research is in the primary stage and there are many more stages. It may take four to five years for some results,” he said.

Rare minerals were found at a Gomaala (Cattle grazing land) in 1979. The scientists unearthed Columbite-tantalite, Niobium tantalum and other minerals used in nuclear power generation. The soil is excavated and processed in three stages to collect the minerals. They are then transported to atomic nuclear energy plants at various places in the country, it is said.

The employees of AMD Regional Director’s office in Bengaluru are managing the unit. The scientists are provided with accommodation on the premises. Around 30 locals are given jobs under daily wages.

“We have not excavated lithium till now. The minerals that are required for nuclear plants are being separated. Some are spreading rumours that the minerals are lithium,” said scientists here.

Villagers oppose

Meanwhile, with the news of excavation of minerals and lithium gaining momentum on the social media, the locals oppose the same.

“The research will spoil agricultural land and we will not allow any research,” they said.

DC for research

Deputy Commissioner Dr M V Venkatesh clarified that the barren land, with stones, are not fit for agriculture.

The Gomaala land belongs to the government. The district administration will cooperate with the scientists for the research, he added.