International Energy Agency 2018 predicted that by 2030, more than 125 million electric vehicles will be owned by people globally. However experts pose the question, where does the lithium come from which is required for powering the batteries.
Salt flats are mined for lithium carbonate in Argentina in order to power batteries which are used to run electric vehicles. Lithium is extracted from the brine which is present beneath the salt flats. The process uses fresh water too.
However some of the indigenous communities in Jujuy, Argentina are now rejecting the miners. Jujuy is a province which has the highest percentage of indigenous households in the country. The region also has many projects coming under way.
The people know that the companies want to come to the region to exploit lithium which requires millions and millions litres of water. The people are worried about the lives of their animals, and about the future of their grandchildren.
Environmentalists believe in an arid region lot of fresh water is being used.
“The water in northwest Argentina from the salt flats is being put at a severe risk. Lithium mining projects are demanding way more water than what is available there,” spoke Pia Marchegiani, Environmental Campaigner.
The Sales de Jujuy plant produced 14,000 tonnes of lithium in 2018. Scientists also say 420 million litres of fresh water could have been used, which is equivalent of 168 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The provincial government of Jujuy however claimed there is no water problem. According to Miguel Soler, Secretary of Mining, people can be very comfortable buying an electric vehicle made with lithium which comes from Argentina.
Furthermore, he says the process is monitored with departments of the government in order to avoid environmental issue and water problem.
According to environmentalists, lithium is not the only environmental issue to consider. Not only the car and the battery is important, one must also think about the electricity that is used for charging, and consider where the battery is coming from, whether it is uses energy from fossil fuels or it is renewable energy.