On Twitter, Indians and Afghans vie for Musk’s investment in Lithium

Indians and Afghans on Saturday were seen competing with each other to attract Tesla founder Elon Musk’s attention, apprising the billionaire of the abundance of lithium reserves in their respective countries

| Updated: 11 February, 2023 3:59 pm IST

A day after reports of 5.9 million tonne lithium being discovered in Jammu and Kashmir emerged, Indians and Afghans on Saturday were seen competing with each other to attract Tesla founder Elon Musk’s attention, apprising the billionaire of the abundance of lithium reserves in their respective countries.

Lithium is an essential ingredient for making Electric Vehicle batteries. Tesla is a pioneer in making cutting-edge EVs.

One Indian user commented on Twitter, “Now that the second largest deposits of #lithium are found in Jammu, do you regret not being able to set up a Tesla factory here? Shouldn’t you have just agreed with the government?

Musk received many similar tags from Indian users. Some users from Afghanistan intervened on these threads to highlight the fact that “Afghanistan is sitting on lithium deposits estimated to be worth $1 trillion or more, including what may be the world’s largest lithium reserves,” seeking Musk’s attention to investing in the strife-torn country.

Afghan Twitterati’s act of bombarding Musk with requests for investments was triggered by a post of the Twitter owner in which he shared news about Taliban fighters being fed up with traffic jams.

The comments after a point kept getting bizarre with witty Afghans suggesting that Twitter should verify all Taliban Twitter handles for free in exchange for the lithium reserves. Afghans are known to harbour a distinct fascination for fast cars and verified Twitter accounts.

Since Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in 2021, many Pro Taliban accounts on social media have tried to highlight Afghanistan’s rich lithium reserves as a potential investment opportunity for global businesses.

Elon Musk’s Tesla remains the top choice. Some have even offered unlimited access to mine lithium in Afghanistan in exchange for a promise from Elon to bring the cars to their country.

The war-ravaged nation has hardly seen any development and cars like Tesla is a distant dream for most people in Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban have been sitting on the rich mineral reserves of the country and are generating $1 billion a year as revenue from leasing mines primarily to Chinese firms. Though the mining of lithium is banned by the Taliban, it is seeking worthy deals from countries like China and Russia to lease its mines in the future.

After the discovery of lithium mines in Reasi Jammu and Kashmir, many Indian Twitter accounts trolled the Afghans on lithium mines. With reserves unearthed in Jammu and Kashmir two and half times more than those in Afghanistan, the jubilant Indians asked Elon Musk to invest in Jammu and Kashmir instead.

Tesla has been public about its intention to set up shop in India but failed to negotiate a proper deal with the Indian government owing to high import duties. The Indian government has made it clear to the EV manufacturer they will be considered for import rebates only if they set up local manufacturing units, while Musk has held the position that it would like to first test out the success of fully imported Tesla cars in India first resulting in an impasse.

Though the banter on social media may just serve as entertainment, on a serious note the discovery of Lithium mines in Jammu and Kashmir is an exciting opportunity for Tesla to invest in India. The Indian market is one of the most sought-after by global investors.

From global car manufacturing companies to mobile manufacturing companies like Apple have invested heavily in India. With lithium resources now present in India, Electric vehicle manufacturers would be eyeing to invest further in India. Tesla being the leader in EV manufacturing could now actively seek India not just as a potential market but also as a manufacturing hub for its global sales.

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