Archives par mot-clé : lithium

LITHIUM mining for electric vehicles is incredibly destructive to the environment and about as far from “green” as you can imagine

by P. Homewood, Oct 13, 2022 in NotaLotofPeopleKnowThat

There’s nothing new here, but it acts as a good reminder of just bad lithium mining is for the environment:

Electric vehicles are promoted as the solution for combating “climate change.” Governments are currently incentivizing the production of electric vehicles, while punishing the fossil fuel industry. However, lithium mining for electric vehicles is incredibly destructive to the environment, and is about as far from “green” as one could imagine. Not to mention, most of 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 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.

There are serious environmental risks to extracting lithium for the production of lithium-ion batteries

When lithium is extracted from salt mines, the 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 lithium extraction process takes several months, displaces valuable water resources, and leaves behind a toxic trail of wastewater in the local environment. 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.

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.

Water quality, wildlife populations, and crops all adversely affected by lithium mining

Lithium: How the Taliban will fight climate change?

by D.Middleton, Aug 24, 21, 2021 in WUWT

Afghanistan is the “the Saudi Arabia of lithium” –a metal that is essential for electric vehicle batteries and battery storage technologies. According to the International Energy Agency these technologies account for 30 percent of the current global demand for lithium. Demand for lithium is projected to increase 40-fold above 2020 levels by 2040, along with rare earth elements, copper, cobalt, and other minerals in which Afghanistan is also naturally rich.

China currently controls the supply chains for most of the production and/or processing of these minerals. Now China may have another source.

The spiralling environmental cost of our lithium battery addiction

by A. Katwala, Aug 5, 2018 in Wired

Here’s a thoroughly modern riddle: what links the battery in your smartphone with a dead yak floating down a Tibetan river? The answer is lithium – the reactive alkali metal that powers our phones, tablets, laptops and electric cars.

In May 2016, hundreds of protestors threw dead fish onto the streets of Tagong, a town on the eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau. They had plucked them from the waters of the Liqi river, where a toxic chemical leak from the Ganzizhou Rongda Lithium mine had wreaked havoc with the local ecosystem.

There are pictures of masses of dead fish on the surface of the stream. Some eyewitnesses reported seeing cow and yak carcasses floating downstream, dead from drinking contaminated water. It was the third such incident in the space of seven years in an area which has seen a sharp rise in mining activity, including operations run by BYD, the world’ biggest supplier of lithium-ion batteries for smartphones and electric cars. After the second incident, in 2013, officials closed the mine, but when it reopened in April 2016, the fish started dying again.


Old mining techniques make a new way to recycle lithium batteries

by Michigan Technological University, August 2, 2018 in ScienceDaily

Using 100-year-old minerals processing methods, chemical engineering students have found a solution to a looming 21st-century problem: how to economically recycle lithium ion batteries.

Pan, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Michigan Technological University, earned his graduate degrees in mining engineering. It was his idea to adapt 20th century mining technology to recycle lithium ion batteries, from the small ones in cell phones to the multi-kilowatt models that power electric cars. Pan figured the same technologies used to separate metal from ore could be applied to spent batteries. So he gave his students a crash course in basic minerals processing methods and set them loose in the lab.