The Union ministry of mines on Thursday said that it has discovered 5.9 million tonnes of lithium resources in the Salal-Haimana area of Reasi District of Jammu and Kashmir.

This is the first major lithium reserve that has been found in India. Last year, a survey led by the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research had shown presence of lithium resources of 1,600 tonnes in Marlagalla area of Karnataka’s Mandya district.

Lithium is a rare mineral and an essential component in rechargeable batteries used in electric vehicles and electronic gadgets like smartphones, and laptops. The supply of lithium is essential as government plans to meet its decarbonisation goals by boosting sales of electric vehicles in the country.

According to a forecast by S&P Global Mobility, India will soon become world’s third-largest market for passenger and other light vehicles, displacing Japan, reported Reuters. The Centre has also set a target of increasing the use of private electric vehicles by 30% by 2030, reported the Business Line.

India has largely relied on imports from countries like Hong Kong, China, and Indonesia for lithium supply.

“We have re-oriented our exploration measures towards critical and strategic minerals and this discovery is a vindication of our efforts,” Mines Secretary Vivek Bharadwaj told Mint.

Notably, however, the process of lithium extraction is not sustainable.

In South America and Australia, which have the largest reserves of lithium, the mineral is sourced mainly from salt brine and spodumene or hard rock. The process requires billions of gallons ground water, and it ends up potentially contaminating some of it for 300 years, reported The New York Times. The mining process also leaves behind a giant mound of waste.