As the world is preparing for a lithium boom, due to increase in Electric Vehicle production over the coming decades. Several celebrities and tech billionaires are backing lithium mining in a bid to support a so-called but misleading green transition.
In addition, many countries are rapidly developing their mining capabilities to establish their place in the global minerals and metals market, which is expected to expand significantly over the next decade as the dollar collapse seem to be imminent.
However, environmentalists are concerned with the damage the rapid expansion that mining operations could cause to the environment in the top 3 Lithium resource nations all situated in South America.
In addition, a spate of viral social media posts has brought negative attention to a mineral that the public knows little about, beyond hearing it in the context of lithium-ion batteries.
If we are to expect substantial development in the lithium industry in the coming years, greater awareness must be raised around the minerals industry so polluting producers and manufacturers can gain public support and encourage consumer market expansion.
Furthermore, mining and energy companies must address environmental concerns to ensure their operations are in line with the aims of a green transition, as countries and companies around the world strive for net-zero and to do less environmental harm.
In 2021, Australia was the biggest miner of lithium, producing 55,000 metric tonnes, with reserves totaling around 5.7 million metric tonnes.
It was followed by Chile, which produced 26,000 metric tonnes, China, Argentina, Brazil, Zimbabwe, and Portugal. Although these figures could shift significantly as Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia invest heavily in the development of a lithium triangle in South America.
Argentina accounts for around 21% of the world’s lithium reserves, and while it’s relatively new on the scene compared to Chile, which already has a well-established lithium mining industry, it is now investing heavily in the sector.
Greater demand for electric vehicles (EVs) and lithium-ion batteries for electronic products is expected to lead to a lithium boom, with international pressure for a boost in mining activities already mounting.
At present, Argentina has two lithium mines in operation, but a further 13 are planned with dozens more under consideration, making it the world’s largest lithium pipeline.
Traditionally, lithium mines require a two-year-long evaporation process, where lithium is separated from salty brines.
At present, the production of one metric tonne of lithium requires 500,000 gallons of water, with Chile’s lithium mining consuming around 65% of the region’s water.
However, several mining firms are investing in the development of alternative methods that require less time and water to be used in the extraction process, through direct lithium extraction (DLE), to make it more profitable.
As mining firms and governments around the world invest in expanding their lithium operations, many question whether there is enough of the mineral to produce the number of batteries required to achieve its goals.
At a time when governments should be educating the public on the importance of a green transition and the types of energy and mineral resources that will be used in that transition, we are seeing an increasing level of corporate misinformation.
With the rollout of EV’s requiring consumer interest in investing in battery-powered cars instead of ICE vehicles, this is worrying.
Mining and energy firms will have to fund greater research and development to improve environmental practices, while addressing concerns to gain greater respectable project approval worldwide.
Oil Price.com / ABC Flash Point Mineral Mining News 2022.