Lithium Mining Heats Up in Chile Desert to Quench Demand For EV Batteries

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Alfred Peru
Lithium mining heats up in Chile desert to quench demand for EV batteries

The prospect of mining Lithium in the Chilean desert is set to receive major attention at the COP 25 climate conference in Chile this December. Environmentalists are concerned about the human health and safety conditions in lithium production facilities. In addition, mining requires a great deal of water.

Lithium reserves are sufficient to support rapid increase in demand for EV batteries

Lithium is an important component in electric vehicles, and the rapid growth of this market is placing pressure on lithium reserves. In fact, the world could face a lithium shortage by 2025, if current EV sales continue. The IEA and Credit Suisse have both estimated that demand for lithium will treble between 2020 and 2025, and the supply will become stretched. By 2025, the world would need to produce about 14 million electric vehicles. Volkswagen and Ford, which sell electric vehicles, have already sold out of their models for 2022 and 2023. The E-Transit van was sold out even before production began.

The current lithium supply is enough for the next decade. The electric vehicle and stationary storage revolution will only increase that demand. It is possible that the 100-Gigafactory scenario will become a reality. Then the world would have 365 years of lithium, less than half of the current demand.

Mining is cost-effective

EV batteries are a growing concern in the developing world, and lithium mining in the Chile desert is becoming an increasingly viable option for battery production. The desert is a rich source of lithium, a vital ingredient in the production of EV batteries. Lithium is found in abundance in the area, and its low price is a major selling point for the industry. However, the mining process is not without environmental impacts. The mining process is likely to dissipate half a million gallons of water, reducing the water table. The process also dries up underground water sources.

The mining process involves removing lithium from ore using sulfuric acid, which is corrosive and toxic. One Canadian lithium mining company plans to acidify the molten sulfur on site, instead of trucking it in from an oil refinery.

It reduces energy demand

A mining company is taking steps to minimize its energy footprint. Lithium carbonate is extracted near the coast of Chile near the city of Antofagasta. The process uses a massive amount of water. As lithium carbonate is extracted, it evaporates over half a million gallons of water per hour. It also dries up underground sources of water.

This mining process poses many environmental justice issues. It has resulted in a depletion of groundwater, as well as a lack of consent from local communities. In addition to depleting groundwater, lithium mining in the desert is also responsible for degrading ecosystems.

It uses a lot of water

Lithium mining in Chile’s Atacama desert is taking a toll on the water supply of the surrounding desert. The salt flat’s vast salt deposits are a major source of lithium. The lithium brine is extracted from these deposits and converted into compounds for use in rechargeable batteries. But the mining process is not without controversy. Indigenous communities and regulators are concerned about the project’s impact on the water cycle.

Chile’s water and mineral resources have been privatized since the Pinochet era, and the mining operations are now straining a region that is already severely drought-prone. As a result, communities in the region are losing access to potable water and are increasingly reliant on tankers to get it.

It reduces flamingo populations

Lithium mining is a growing industry in the Chile desert. As a result, it is affecting flamingo populations in two species. The James’ flamingo and the Andean flamingo populations have both decreased by more than 10 percent in the last decade. This represents a significant loss of hundreds of birds.

In other parts of the country, there are flamingo populations that have remained stable for decades despite the lithium mining. However, in the Atacama, flamingo populations have fallen by as much as 12%. This decline is attributed to the fact that the flamingos have fewer places to breed. This is because flamingos need water in order to survive. Lithium mining in Chile desert reduces water in the salt flats, making them a less viable habitat for the birds.

The decrease in flamingo populations was noted by scientists in the region. The study also indicates that the flamingo decline could spread to other areas of the region.


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