Piles of Lithium rich salt, Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Luca Galuzzi (Lucag), edit by Trialsanderrors [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Neil; NYT has noticed an awful lot of toxic mineral extraction and wholesale open cut ecological destruction would be required, to satisfy President Biden’s clean electric vehicle vision.

The electric-vehicle race is creating a gold rush for lithium, raising environmental concerns.

May 7, 2021

The United States needs to quickly find new supplies of lithium as automakers ramp up manufacturing of electric vehicles.

Lithium is used in electric car batteries because it is lightweight, can store lots of energy and can be repeatedly recharged. Other ingredients like cobalt are needed to keep the battery stable.

But production of raw materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel that are essential to these technologies are often ruinous to land, water, wildlife and people, Ivan Penn and Eric Lipton report for The New York Times. Mining is one of the dirtiest businesses out there.

“Right now, if China decided to cut off the U.S. for a variety of reasons we’re in trouble,” said Ben Steinberg, an Obama administration official turned lobbyist. He was hired in January by ​Piedmont Lithium, which is working to build an open-pit mine in North Carolina and is one of several companies that have created a trade association for the industry.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/07/business/the-electric-vehicle-race-is-creating-a-gold-rush-for-lithium-raising-environmental-concerns.html

NYT neglected to put a number on the Lithium shortage, but I’ve seen estimates that a 2000% increase in Lithium extraction rates would be required, along with a broad range of other toxic minerals such as Rare Earths (used in high efficiency electric motors). There would be no opportunity to be dainty about ramping up production on that scale – Once easily accessible Lithium brines were exhausted, Lithium miners would have to rip the countryside apart, digging up low grade Lithium containing minerals in vast open cut mines, creating enormous toxic waste dumps in their effort to feed the EV production market.

And none of this would be a one-off – the search and extract process would be ongoing.

Good thing the motive for this proposed wholesale planet wrecking is to save the environment, right?

via Watts Up With That?


May 8, 2021