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One Planet: Socio-environmental impacts of lithium mining for electric vehicle batteries

Lithium_Mining_at_Salar_del_Hombre_Muerto,_Argentina.jpg
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Mineração de lítio no Salar del Hombre Muerto, Argentina;

On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we’ll discuss the socio-environmental impacts of lithium mineral extraction for electric vehicle batteries.

More than half of the world’s lithium resources lie beneath the salt flats in the Andean regions of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, where indigenous quinoa farmers and llama herders must now compete with miners for water in one of the world’s driest regions.

Lithium mining requires a significant amount of groundwater to pump out brines from drilled wells: some estimates show that almost 2 million liters of water are needed to produce one ton of lithium, according to the UN.

Guest:

Jennifer Krill, executive director of Earthworks

Web Resources:

Earthworks

WIRED: The spiralling environmental cost of our lithium battery addiction

The Washington Post: Cobalt mining for lithium ion batteries has a high human cost

Malihe Razazan is the senior producer of KALW's daily call-in program, Your Call.