Report reveals environmental impact of mining for lithium to power electric cars

by WorldTribune Staff, October 14, 2022

In its drive to transition to all electric vehicles (EVs), California in August announced it would ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035. Other blue states are following California’s lead.

The leftists pushing for all vehicles on America’s roads to be electric are failing to mention, however, that mining for the lithium needed for electric vehicle batteries “is incredibly destructive to the environment, and is about as far from ‘green’ as one could imagine,” a report said.

The process of mining lithium ‘pollutes nearby aquifers and lowers the water table, interfering with water sources in the local environment.’

“The process depletes ground water, and leaves behind toxic wastewater that contaminates fields and harms wildlife. The mining process is not carbon dioxide free, either. The mining process releases 15,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions for every ton of lithium that is extracted,” the Oct. 13 What’s Up With That blog noted.

Another fact that the all-electric crowd fails to note is that the lithium-ion batteries produced today “come from China and require water-intensive mining operations that ravage natural environments throughout Australia, Argentina, and Chile,” the report said.

Based in China, Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd is the largest lithium miner in the world, with mineral resources in Australia, Argentina, Mexico and China. Its revenue topped $9 billion in Q2 2022, a 269.42% increase year over year.

Lithium is extracted from salt mines. Miners must drill into the salt flats and pump out a salty, mineral-rich brine. The brine is placed in large pools, so the water can evaporate out. When the brine evaporates, it leaves behind a sludge of potassium, manganese, borax and lithium salts that must be filtered out further.

“The process pollutes nearby aquifers and lowers the water table, interfering with water sources in the local environment,” the report said.

The process of extracting lithium takes several months, “displaces valuable water resources, and leaves behind a toxic trail of wastewater in the local environment,” the report added.

It takes approximately 500,000 gallons of water to produce one ton of lithium.

“When mining companies head into countries like Chile, they use up a majority of the region’s water, unjustly affecting small communities,” the report said.

According to the Institute of Energy Research, Chile’s Salar de Atacama is one of the driest places on Earth, yet the mining companies are allowed to use up 65% of the region’s water.

“After the brine is removed from the salt flats, the water table automatically falls, disrupting the natural flow of water that is needed for wells and agriculture. These large-scale disruptions can always be blamed on ‘climate change’ as the lithium mining industry plunges ahead, with no regard for the environmental damage wrought in its wake,” the report said.

Additionally, the chemicals that are used to extract the brine are toxic and end up being discarded into the local environment where they contaminate streams, crops, wildlife and local ecosystems, the report said.

“The toxic chemicals, which include hydrochloric acid, leak from the evaporation pools and pollute the nearby water supply. Additionally, the large open pit mines displace arsenic into the nearby streams and rivers, where it will eventually deposit into agricultural land and be taken up by the crops. This downstream pollution is dangerous to wildlife, too. For example, in May of 2016, the Liqi River was polluted by the Gangizhou Rongda Lithium mine. The river turned up with dead fish, yak and cows,” the report added.

The average price of an EV in the U.S. reached $66,000 this summer.

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