Claim: The Green Energy Lithium Rush is Destabilising South America

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

Russian skulduggery, riots, political coups – and the lithium rush is just getting started.

Russia allegedly meddled in Bolivia’s controversial election

By Max de Haldevang November 17, 2019

A Russian state company sent around 10 spin doctors to Bolivia beginning in mid-2019 to help the incumbent president Evo Morales win last month’s allegedly rigged election, according to an investigation by independent Russian publication Proekt.

Bolivia has been thrown into chaos in recent weeks amid allegations that Morales, who has been in office since 2006, fixed the election. After weeks of protests, the military “suggested” Morales step down on Nov. 10—he did so hours later. A conservative opposition senator declared herself president two days later, in what Morales and his allies around the world, including Russia, are calling a coup.

Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear energy company, and the Bolivian government have agreed to build a $300 million nuclear complex and are in talks about working to mine Bolivia’s enormous lithium reserves. The company intervened in the election due to fears that defeat for the socialist Morales to a candidate more closely aligned with the United States could damage the lucrative relationship, Proekt reported in the investigation published on Oct. 23.

Read more: https://qz.com/1749788/russia-allegedly-helped-evo-morales-in-bolivian-election/

Renewables are not exactly covering themselves in glory on the geopolitical stage. Cobalt, a vital component of high capacity batteries, is extracted by teams of children working in dangerous mines operated by brutal Congolese warlords. Chinese peasants suffering toxic pollution released by their hideous rare earth mine (rare Earths are used to produce high strength magnets, vital for efficient wind turbines). Now we can add corruption and political instability in South America to the cost of renewables.

There are strenuous ongoing efforts to develop less socially damaging battery components. Scientists are working to find a way to replace lithium with sodium. Other scientists are working to replace cobalt with manganese and iron.

As far as I know, none of these alternatives are ready for mainstream use.

For now, the price of our renewable revolution is toxic waste, child exploitation, bloodshed, revolution and oppression.

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132 thoughts on “Claim: The Green Energy Lithium Rush is Destabilising South America

    • Don’t overlook the destruction of many countries economies while regressing their civilizations back to buggy days without the horses.

    • John Tillman

      “Plus the massacre of untold millions of insect-eating birds and bats.”

      Millions, killed by windmills??? What a ridiculous claim!

      1. The major killers of birds are windows and cats.

      2. The major killer of bats – especially in the US, where the disease was first discovered – is Geomyces destructans fungus, which is the cause of the fatal white-nose syndrome.

          • SUNMOD & Sunsettommy

            Yes indeed, I didn’t look at it. My bad.
            Be sure I’ll try to find new information.

            We have here in Germany between 20,000 and 30,000 onshore windmills, and nobody – NOBODY – did ever claim about millions of bird kills thru them.

          • John Tillman (and some others)

            Firstly, I want to make clear
            – that I am not interested in pushing wind power industry or its consultants in any form, and
            – that though bird & bat fatality at wind turbines is a REALLY small part of the total, every bird, every bat dying at a wind turbine is one too much. Because so many die elsewhere.

            During the last 40 years, Northern America has lost 3 BILLIONS of them, certainly NOT at wind turbines.

            We loose in Germany 18 millions of them solely due to glass windows EVERY YEAR.
            You can’t put that out of the discussion.

            *
            You wrote:

            “Some of the best studies come from Germany, although they tend to undercount bird and bat mortality

            So, do they? How does GWPF know that? Did they read the 338 pages of the full report in German?

            I have read parts of the PROGRESS study a while before GWPF, and later on Physics World, published about it, but I had forgotten that stuff inbetween.

            You should read the study’s resumee
            https://bioconsult-sh.de/site/assets/files/1575/1575.pdf

            These people report:

            “An extrapolation of the results for the entire project area leads to numbers of around 7,800 Common Buzzards, 11,000 Wood Pigeons and 11,800 Mallards killed per year.” That is about 30,000 individuals.

            The extended report
            https://bioconsult-sh.de/site/assets/files/1561/1561-1.pdf

            shows a table with other bird species added, giving a total of 43,000 individuals per year for the four federal units considered (Niedersachsen, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Brandenburg, where I live).

            As these four Länder contain a bit over 50% (53) of the wind power installed in Germany (there is much less wind in its southern parts), we divide the 43,000 by about 0.53, and obtain, for the whole Germany, about 82,000 bird fatalities per year, i.e., considering 30,000 wind turbines, somewhat less than 3 birds / station / year.

            This number fits to other studies made in France, Sweden, Spain.

            *
            But for bat fatalities I have higher numbers from
            https://lfu.brandenburg.de/cms/detail.php/bb1.c.321381.de

            Tobias Dürr mentions on this site 80,000 bats killed per year solely in Brandenburg, what would give 200,000 per year in Germany.

            Here is a link to a little bit of info:
            https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fMORSY55N3030pixF3GJUoC4YNH9TZzu/view

            *
            The best for the end is that the only hint to the study of Benner & al. (1993), the origin of the info about 300 birds killed per turbine per year in Germany, and replicated ad nauseam by an incredible amount of web sites, was found at a very interesting place:

            https://inis.iaea.org/search/search.aspx?orig_q=RN:25018067

            In their abstract Benner & al. write:

            “Negative attitudes towards wind energy projects are not particularly due to avian considerations, but rather to a general objective to protect landscapes and habitats, undisturbed by human infrastructures and disturbance. It is concluded that all new locations for wind energy projects should be weighed on the disturbance aspect.”

            They did not seem to be very sensitive to bird life.

            *
            Last not least, thanks to SUNMOD for his nice “(From the Spam bin)”.
            Much appreciated!

            Regards
            J.-P. D.

          • The real fact is that wind turbines and solar farms kill millions of birds and bats every year. Worldwide, it’s probably tens of millions, to include the endangered raptors which aren’t killed by cats.

            Other sources of flying vertebrate death are beside the point.

      • So, it’s okay to erect a device that kills birds and bats, just so long as cats and windows are killing more of them?

        Lemme try my hand at that logic: “It’s okay for me to dump a thousand gallons of raw sewage into the ocean, since the city of Seattle dumps hundreds of millions of gallons into Puget Sound”.

        [https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/silence-reigns-as-sewage-spews-into-puget-sound-heres-why/]

        • mrsell

          Thanks for so accurately misinterpreting what I wrote.
          Even bad things have to be correctly put in relation.

          • Everything you wrote?

            Let’s see…

            Bindidon wrote:

            “Millions, killed by windmills??? What a ridiculous claim!”

            Bindidon did not expand on this in the original comment, leaving the conclusions that Bindidon openly disagrees that windmills kill millions. Bindidon doesn’t state, but it is implied that ‘less than’ millions is the more accepted answer.

            Bindidon then goes on to say:

            “1. The major killers of birds are windows and cats.”

            As well as a claim about a fatal bat disease as point 2. In follow up comments Bindidon offers references in support.

            So in summary we have three points

            – Windmills do not kill millions
            – Birds are killed by cats and windows
            – Bats are killed by disease

            Now in all honesty we have three semi related statements and no actual conclusions, so it is tricky to misinterpret what Bindidon is actually saying. We could debate the accuracy of the above statements, but without a linking argument we cannot really progress further. Or to put it another way, it is difficult to misinterpret what does not actually exist in the first place.

            However, as a comparison, let us put forward a similar but unrelated pair of statements.

            1 – Millions are not killed each year from firearms
            2 – Humans die from cancer

            What can we conclude? Nothing actually. Without a linking argument these are simply two independent statements.

            By the same logic Bindidon’s argument cannot be accurately discussed because Bindidon has failed, in this situation at least, to actually offer one.

    • Worthless comment.
      America ceased separating rare earths out during mining operations when China’s dumping rare earths upon the global markets made such separation and recovery guaranteed financial losses.

          • Interesting.

            “Deep-sea mining has a storied history” , is that worse than historied story?

            ” The underwater nature of the excavation also allegedly reduces noise and environmental impact.”

            What they eye does not see …..

            Wait till GreenPiece get into deep water observation drones. A new frontier awaits !

          • And Nautilus Mining (deep sea off PNG) has gone bust, in part due to trying to get approvals. Its not yet been shown to be economic.

      • Not a worthless comment at all. There is no lack of rare earth elements in the US. We don’t mine them because they are so lacking in value as to not be economically feasible to mine. When the supplies go down, value goes up, and mining starts again. Unless you want to repeal the free market system.

        Besides, demand for lithium and cobalt are driven far more by technology demands than by greenie propaganda. Virtually every electronic device on the planet is now powered partially or fully by Li ion batteries. Try living without them for five minutes.

    • It is good news, but I think what Worrall point to is the huge resource need to satisfy the Green projects. Hour classic power stations also used resources for the construction, but the quantity is mediocre compared to what is needed for windmills and batteries for the same power generation. This is something that is bound to create issues and fights over. We are talking big money and the Green industry has to use all tricks in the book, to make the Green projects appear cheaper than the classic ICE and thermal power plants, even if that means mining under bad conditions and sloppy waste management.

    • My understanding is rare Earth refining was abandoned in the West because it produces such horrific waste products.

      China is less concerned about toxic waste – the scandal I referenced is the rare earth refiners in China dumped vast quantities of toxic waste into a nearby lake, and didn’t inform the peasants who used the lake as a water supply.

      • My understanding is rare Earth refining was abandoned in the West because it produces such horrific waste products.

        Not the case Eric, some types of REEs were made uneconomic due to it costing a lot to both produce the minerals plus to eliminate the wastes. China simply pollutes strategically, without restraint, to take market share and to drive other producers out of business (environmentalists seem to regard that as a ‘win’ for the environment).

        A lot of the former cold-war era supply of common REEs came from sand-mining in Australia, and it had very low pollution levels. That was stopped though for more nebulous environmental and heritage “values” issues (the same enviro-heritage values not being applied to wind mills that spoil and offend our environmental “values”).

        • They then must be thinking LONG TERM WRT China polluting themselves into the grave as a country. 2 billion fewer Chinese equates to a significantly lower global carbon footprint. They (ecomarxists) want a 95% population decrease and don’t care who the 95% is so long as it’s not them.

        • “came from sand-mining in Australia, and it had very low pollution levels. That was stopped though for more nebulous environmental and heritage “values” issues”

          It was not stopped. There have been controversies, but Australia is still the world’s leading producer of ilmenite and rutile from beach sands.

      • The protesting greens are usually in first world countries where they wish to retain their lifestyles while, at the same time, saving the world from the same lifestyles.

        Mines in China and burning Australian coal in India/China/anywhere overseas are remote from their daily lives so are ignored, but you and I driving an ICE vehicle are destroying the Earth for future generations.

        Facts are anathema to their emotional diatribes.

  1. Lithium is far from the only thing destabilizing South America. link What a mess. It, in large part, is caused by a collapse in commodity prices.

    • Thank you Bob for the link. South America seems forever plagued with “difficult” governments.

      Circa 1992, I co-funded the drilling of the Loma Blanca borate deposit 50:50 with International Nickel Company (INCO). The project was located in the high Andes in Jujuy province of northern Argentina. It had been mined previously for a few years, and was later rejected by Rio Tinto Corporation as too small for that mining giant. We delineated the deposit and concluded that it was economically mineable, with a value of about 2 billion dollars. Then our new company President shut down the Minerals Division, we sold the project and it was successfully developed by others.

      The high Andes, including the high plain called the Altiplano (called the Puna by locals), is rich in many rare minerals. The Loma Blanca mine is located in this high desert at about 4200m elevation, one of the strangest and most interesting places I have ever been. Salt lakes of every bright colour dot the landscape, herds of wild vicuña never let you get close, and large ostrich-like rheas run alongside the road.

      Even though ii is not that far south of the equator, winter temperatures drop to -40C (-40F) because of the altitude. The region is high and dry, and even oxygen is scarce.

      Native Amerinds live in adobe villages, much the same way they lived a thousand years ago. They grow tiny potatoes and raise llamas. They were very nice, amiable and hardy. I liked them very much and think of them often.

    • The piles of salt in the picture were already there when I visited the region in 2001. It is a small-scale salt mining operation by a couple of local families. A large scale lithium-extraction operation would look very different.

  2. “corruption and political instability in South America” is the perfect formula for both China and Russia to flourish. Eric’s report on the “Lithium Triangle”, which occurs in SE Bolivia, NE Chile and NW Argentina, just touches on one small aspect of production advances that at first seem beneficial and later seem disasters. Here’s the problem (and this includes all of the “carbon pollution” issues as well): civilized countries mostly play by the rules and China and Russia do not.

    • All powerful countries go through a phase of not playing by the rules. The interesting thing is, the smart leaders eventually figure out it doesn’t work. If you engineer a coup to put someone so corrupt in charge of a country they’re happy to sell out their countrymen, turns out they’re happy to sell you out as well.

      • Russia and the democratically elected leader, Morales, all claim the USA has been meddling in affairs, to try and capture the lithium wealth. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time the pot called the kettle black.

        • Morales was genuinely elected the first time. The last time, and the time before that, probably not.

          At present, there is little Li wealth in Bolivia to be captured.

          Don’t cry for Morales, Bolivia. His kickbacks from the cocaine industry have set him up for life.

  3. I think there was a company here in NZ which was intending to extract lithium from sea water. Any information on that process, and it’s practicality?

    • Seawater contains 0.1-0.2 ppm of lithium. Brines derived from leaching of continental rocks that are considered to be worth extracting lithium from contain 300-7,000 ppm.
      Any method that can extract Li economically from seawater would be hugely more profitable using even very low-grade continental brines.

  4. Remind me again how the energy that requires minerals that are murder on the environment to obtain is somehow good for the environment.

    • I’m right there with you Wade, and there’s little in the way of recycling and even that’s a toxic process!

  5. I’m calling BS on this article. Extracted from :

    “Top Lithium Production by Country”
    Priscila Barrera – August 12th, 2019
    https://investingnews.com/daily/resource-investing/battery-metals-investing/lithium-investing/lithium-producing-countries/

    1. Australia
    Mine production: 51,000 MT

    2. Chile
    Mine production: 16,000 MT

    3. China
    Mine production: 8,000 MT

    4. Argentina
    Mine production: 6,200 MT

    5. Zimbabwe
    Mine production: 1,600 MT

    Bolivia isn’t even on the list of the world’s top 10 lithium producers, while Russia can buy lithium from China and no doubt from several other sources.

    • I`m not sure what you`re calling BS on. It sounds like Bolivia doesn`t yet have a lithium mine/refinery, so it won`t appear on any list yet. And yes, Russia can buy from others, and no doubt will. But certainly they will get some sweet deals once the mine they`re planning is up and running in return for that nuclear power plant – quid pro quo, as they say in France.

    • You looked at and listed PRODUCTION. The article states RESERVES.

      …of which Bolivia supposedly has 7% of the world’s known total, most of it in Salar de Uyuni.

      • Reserves are not worth anything until they’re extracted profitably, via large-scale production, refining, transport and delivery to a buyer. Australia produces on a large-scale and makes a profit, even with stringent enviro laws, and it doesn’t use child labor to do that as the article claims. How? By doing it properly. The article is more-or-less claiming it can’t be done properly, ethically or cleanly. Which is clearly not true, the bulk of the Lithium being produced is not being done at the expense of human rights, or the environment, and is not propping up tyrants.

        But you’re expecting me to also believe Bolivia with mere reserves of Li, can click its fingers to obtain investment capital from Moscow to setup a major mining facility, refining and complete export infrastructures, in a world that’s already selling plentiful supplies of lithium, and increasingly cheaply? The price lithium has been dropping steadily for almost 2 years now, suggesting plenty of supply exists at present.

        https://tradingeconomics.com/commodity/lithium

        If you produce more you just push the price down. Bolivia may have reserves but they will remain reserves, and not be produced soon as they can not compete and make a profit at extracting the resource. As increasing production into oversupplied markets sends you broke, which is the opposite of the purpose of investing in the first place.

        The Russians want to sell a reactor, that’s all! The rest of it appears to be window-dressing.

    • Uh… Interestingly, Chile had a lot of instability recently too.

      Also, it seems that the recent riots in the continent have more than a finger of the Forum de São Paulo, the Latin American leftist cabal that was likely pushed by the Soviet Union in its death throes and rumor is that it’s still heavily influenced by present day Russia.

      No matter what the current regime in Russia, it’s always in their best interests to destabilize Latin America to create pressure against the United States (and the West) through their close international neighbors. See Putin’s ideological bible, “Foundations of Geopolitics”.

      • Yes, but economically Russia’s small potatoes these days, the Chinese are ~10 times bigger, and US is ~16 times bigger.

        Russia wants to sell a reactor and recently it’s not going that well. Which tends to happen when you spend >10 years bad-mouthing the US dollar and trying to destroy it, as Putin has.

        Naturally the US is going to then always throw a spanner in the werkes of anything the Russians economically or geopolitically try to do in the Western Hemisphere.

        • When was Russia big potatoes?

          If you look at Russia in 1999 and in 2019 you will see that Putin has done a first class economic job for Russians.

          Not for Bill Browder and other asset stripping Americans. For Russians.

          This sort of utterly ignorant rubbish is why US is no longer respected.

          Russia is a steadily growing, increasingly diversified economy building trade networks independent of the US dollar. It has every right to do that. If the USA knew vaguely how to behave, Putin would have built lasting trade relations with the US. In the early days he truly wanted to build a Us-European-Russian alliance. Not any more…

          US sanctions on Russia are pure gangsterism, nothing else. The US murders one hundred times as many people overseas as Russia, carries out many many more coups d’etat and imposes its military and CIA all over the world. There is no code of ethics on earth where the USA passes muster. None.

          No one listens to US propaganda any more.

          Russians are not perfect, but they do not impose servitude as a modus operandum. They seek to sell gas to Europe and when the US plays gangster politics, sells it to China instead. Dear me….

          • I couldn’t give a toss about your off-topic rant about your boyfriend. During most of the cold war The US economy was only about 2.5 to 3 times bigger than the Russian economy, right now it’s about 15 times bigger. Deal with it.

          • If the United States is so “not respected” then why do millions of people around the world (every year) try to come here (legally and illegally)?

          • Despite its greater population, Russia’s GDP lies between those of Canada and South Korea. Economic growth during the early Putin years was due to rising oil and gas prices. The crash since then has been thanks to falling prices and inability to diversify the economy away from resource sales, plus sanctions imposed following Russian annexation of Crimea and invasion of the Donbas.

        • “Alan Chapprll November 18, 2019 at 2:40 am

          No wonder, there are more paper US$ in circulation in the x-soviets than in the USA.”

          Maybe you’d prefer Italian Lira or Mexican Peso as international reserve currency:

          https://www.statista.com/chart/18888/number-of-dollar-notes-in-circulation-worldwide-by-denomination/

          https://www.google.com/search?client=ms-android-huawei&sxsrf=ACYBGNS6RC6kell8E8BLBrYQfZUgWM38fw:1574784550130&q=us+currency+in+circulation+chart&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwis6dTNoYjmAhUrmYsKHawkAOoQ1QIwFXoECAsQAg&biw=360&bih=574

    • By the way WXcycle you are overstating the production by a factor 1,000,000.

      Those figures are in tons not megatons.

      Which incidentally means that currently the world production of lithium is very slightly more than ten grams per year per capita.

      Be a while before everybody can buy a Tesla.

      • The link I gave reports it in MT (which as you point out is incorrect in scale).

        The relevant point is that current commercial demand is being easily met, the price is falling, production rising, large-scale production expansion (in Australia) has been very rapid. No significant problems exist to continuing this trend, and demand is not outstripping supply, as demand went up the supply has matched then exceeded it (twice in the past 15 years).

        Estimated known global reserves (in 2011) is estimated to be 39 million tons (estimated as 16 million elsewhere). Current global production rate is close to 85,000 tons per year.

        39,000,000 / 85,000 = ~460 years of global supply at current production rates.

        The production rate will of course go up sharply, but clearly there’s a lot of the stuff which can already be economically extracted via current mining technology. As the extraction technology plus the mining access infrastructure and transport improves to and from remote mine sites and more exploration also occurs with time, that “economic reserve” will dramatically increase in size.

        In other words, we will not run out of new lithium supplies for many, many centuries even as demand rises. And of course, other rechargeable battery technologies and chemistries will emerge to displace further Li use, anyway.

        So I disagree with your view that large-scale supply of Li battery powered electric cars is not viable any time soon. That is not correct at all. Most of the arguments voiced against electric vehicles make little to no sense to me, they seem to be little more than excuses to avert necessary and timely changes in vehicle propulsion technologies.

        Though there’s no pressing need to make a transition to EVs at this point, as there are adequate supplies of hydrocarbons and CO2 is NET beneficial to the entire BIOTA. CO2 is not pollutant at all, quite the reverse.

        Finally, what does bringing up the name Tesla have to do with this discussion? That’s a fixation, but not for me, let’s just stick to the topic.

  6. So lithium doesn’t just jump into the arms of greenies when the sun is shining or wind is blowing?

  7. Heh… If the Russian’s sent anyone to La Paz (Bolivia’s capital) to “help” win the election I can see why things quickly went awry.

    La Paz, setting at 11,900 ft, is the highest capital in the world. One of the human impacts related to its location is that altitude sickness is common and widespread. A key symptom of prolonged altitude sickness is confusion. In late ’70s, a time when my family traveled in Latin American diplomatic circles, official U.S. policy was not to take the advice of anyone actually located in La Paz. So, for example, any U.S. officials conducting business in La Paz were required to leave, recover their senses at a lower altitude, and then make any recommendation they might have. Under no conditions were U.S. aid, policy, or command decisions to made in La Paz. And under absolutely no circumstances were any operations to be conducted by personal located in Bolivia’s capital or any area in Bolivia located at high altitude.

    So, if the Russian’s did go to Bolivia, chances are they weren’t thinking clearly. And the probability that things went south are pretty high.

    • Yes, you had better be a aymara to live permanently on the Altiplano. But on the other hand they tend to be very uncomfortable and frequently sick at low altitudes.

    • Not exactly medically accurate.

      High altitude sickness is real and important, but is an issue mostly for people going too quickly to high altitude. For example skiers who fly to the Rockies in Colorado from the near sea level coastal regions often suffer at least some headache, if not full altitude sickness with cerebral or pulmonary edema.

      If altitude gain is gradual (no more than about 1000M or 3000ft per day) successful adaptation is usual, including to altitudes well above La Paz’s. So people can go to La Paz and function well, so long as they adopt a gradual rise in altitude. Limitations would be for people with lung or heart disease or anemia.

      So the Russians, who have high enough mountains to do gradual adaptation at home before heading over to La Paz, could very well function in Bolivia.

      We have US military functioning at high effectiveness at high altitudes regularly in Afghanistan—but the issues surrounding high altitude sickness are well worked out and attended to by them. The Russians may seem a bit boorish to us, but they are intelligent and had their own travails in Afghanistan. I am certain they know how to work around altitude issues.

      • Or you can take Diamox 24 hours before abruptly moving to high altitude. Or a combo of Tylenol and Tums or another antacid.

        Or spend a day or two at an altitude intermediate between MSL and 12,000 feet.

        • Quite true. And this does address many of the issues.

          But, but even long-term adaptation only provides newcomers with partial compensation for the lack of oxygen. Consequently the issue of decreased mental acuity for relative newcomers remains.

          This isn’t a problem for the indigenous Andean populations, as their bodies have adapted to the lower levels of oxygen and their mental acuity is unaffected. It is a problem for the non-indigenous populations as they tend to function at a lower level.

          That said, both tend to suffer from high-altitude de-acclimatization when re-entering low altitudes. The symptoms being: fatigue, sleepiness, insomnia, memory loss, headache, throat pain, cough, chest tightness, appetite changes, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and arthralgias.

      • kwinterkorn

        A fair enough and reasonably accurate comment from a medical point of view. However, not particularly practical for an operational point of view.

        The relatively small of teams sent to support diplomatic objectives typically don’t have the time or resources to spend the 4 to 11 days it would take adapt to La Paz’s altitude. State department, AID, intelligence, and military specialist that support these sorts of missions are typically well prepared to go into the countries they are to operate… both from a medical, training, and cultural perspective. However, the number of qualified specialist are limited and their skills have be deployed judiciously. And their parent institutions rarely have that vast human, political, logistical, financial, and medical resources typically allocated to support troops in major war zones. In short, these teams have to make-do with the resources available and successfully complete their assigned tasks in the limited amount of time that their budgets and circumstances allow.

        Keep in mind, these specialist tend to be based in relatively low lying areas. For example, in the early ’70s, U.S. assets supporting diplomatic activities in Bolivia were typically provided by the U.S. military’s Southern Command and by other agencies; who, in turn, drew from teams of specialists located in Florida, the Panama Canal Zone, and D.C. Those personnel also tended to be of Latin American heritage and pulled from predominately low-land areas of Latin America.

        Further due to practical budget, language, and training constraints; these assets had to be deployable throughout Central and South America (Mexico was handled separately at that time) and they had to be kept reasonably active addressing other objectives in multiple countries to justify their pay and their agencies budget constants. Frankly, unless time allowed and the circumstances absolutely required it, these teams did not have the time to adapt to high altitude operations. They just had to make-do, get the job done, and move on.

        What this meant, in practical terms, was that these small teams tend to go in knowing that they going to face physical challenges whenever they went in-country. For example, a high proportion of any team was expected to experience diarrhea during virtually any Latin American mission. And, in the high altitude regions of Lain America, clouded judgement due to oxygen deprivation was a common problem… even when those personnel weren’t experiencing other symptoms of altitude sickness and thought they were “high functioning” at the time. So, while they were allowed to travel and operate in the high-lands all critical decision making was made in the low-lands.

        To minimize Bolivia’s practical geographical challenges, the U.S. tended to deploy the bulk of it’s assets in the Bolivia’s low-land where operations and decision making in the local conditions were more conducive to success. That the less oxygen deprived local populations were more mentally dexterous than their high-land counterparts was also a factor. This was also a major factor in the U.S. decision to encourage economic development of the low-land of Beni and Santa Cruz Departments (analogous to States). Since, development of the low-lands facilitated greater political stability.

        The Russians were faced similar constraints in the ’60s and ’70s. Due to nature of there institutional hierarchy their teams tended to be drawn almost exclusively from Moscow and typically they flew directly into La Paz. And the amount of financial and human assets they were capable and willing to directly deploy in Latin America was substantially more limited. And while, yes, the Russian’s are capable and intelligent and they theoretically could have taken the time to send in altitude-adapted teams… but the anecdotal results of their activities in the late ’60s and early ’70s suggests, historically, they didn’t.

        In fairness, Russia’s political targets were and remain located in the high Andes. So, they faced and are facing substantially more difficult cultural, physical, and geographical challenges. However, today they face roughly the same challenges with far fewer resources and roughly the same administrative style. So, I don’t expect a change in the results.

  8. “For now, the price of our renewable revolution is toxic waste, child exploitation, bloodshed, revolution and oppression.”

    And in my country feature heavily the make up of “Ethical Investment” options in pension funds. The other reliably present partner of “renewables” ; hypocrisy

  9. Sure… Never let russophobia go to waste Mr. Worrall… What’s next? RFE/RL courtesy of the Atlantic Council, Brookings and other NATO think tanks?
    So for your information, from Reuters, hardly a pro Russian “news” agency:
    “February 2019: LA PAZ (Reuters) – Bolivia has chosen a Chinese consortium to be its strategic partner on new $2.3 billion lithium projects, the government said on Wednesday, giving China a potential foothold in the country’s huge untapped reserves of the prized electric battery metal.”
    The $300 million deal look pale here…
    However, in the trade war between the US administration and China, China always could use the threat of Rare Earth and Lithium embargo card against the US. With Brazil being Bolivia’s most important trading partner on board, and always ready to help Canada, it is obvious the US will be the main beneficiary from securing strategic resources in Bolivia.
    The US is more subtle when it comes to land lock Canada’s oil sands, using green charities -Tides, Wilbur Force, Hewlett Foundations…- campaigns, effectively keeping the resource intact for their benefit. One cannot imagine Canada opposing any resistance to that plan, since $100 million a day of revenue is being scuttled by the Trudeau administration as we speak.

  10. just getting it back into perspective.
    MY COMMENT IS MOSTLY FROM WIKIPEDIA – IM A MASSIVE FAN OF EVO AND THIS ALL SCARES ME -because he’s basically a v. good guy and I’m anti-media and thus only just found out he’d been outed and my bet is the yanks will be back causing havoc and making money via exploitation with this woman as their puppet – sad – I’d say the Russians are right!!!
    ‘In what was widely termed a populist act, he immediately reduced both his own presidential wage and that of his ministers by 57% to $1,875 a month, also urging members of Congress to do the same.[109][110][111]
    At Morales’ election, Bolivia was South America’s poorest nation.[115] Morales’ government did not initiate fundamental change to Bolivia’s economic structure,[116] and in their National Development Plan (PDN) for 2006–10, adhered largely to the country’s previous liberal economic model.[117] Bolivia’s economy was based largely on the extraction of natural resources, with the nation having South America’s second largest reserves of natural gas.[118] As per his election pledge, Morales took increasing state control of this hydrocarbon industry with Supreme Decree 2870; previously, corporations paid 18% of their profits to the state, but Morales symbolically reversed this, so that 82% of profits went to the state and 18% to the companies. The oil companies threatened to take the case to the international courts or cease operating in Bolivia, but ultimately relented. Thus, where Bolivia had received $173 million from hydrocarbon extraction in 2002, by 2006 they received $1.3 billion’.

  11. There are strenuous ongoing efforts to develop less socially damaging battery components. Scientists are working to find a way to replace lithium with sodium. Other scientists are working to replace cobalt with manganese and iron.

    As far as I know, none of these alternatives are ready for mainstream use.

    For now, the price of our renewable revolution is toxic waste, child exploitation, bloodshed, revolution and oppression.

    Sorry Eric but none of this is specific to renewables. Your “toxic waste, child exploitation, bloodshed, revolution and oppression” has been going on for centuries where ever there are valuable resources to be had. Just as true of oil, or more so.

    Neither is the research effort even mildly centred on developing “less socially damaging battery components”. The driving force is much simpler and concise : cheaper.

    As for the YET ANOTHER Russian interference scam: how many US special forces “advisers” do you think may have been “helping restore democracy” by violently over-throwing the elected president? I’m sure Nuland was down there handing out cookies. No one interferes in S. Am more than the US. No one makes claims of Russian interference more than the US. Maybe there a link.

    Look at open US involvement in Honk Kong.

    At least with lithium information we can see why the US are behind over-throwing Morales. I doubt they care much for the democratic rights of indigenous Bolivians.

    (BTW, I think Morales did a lot of good for his country but had been in power too long anyway. Changing the constitution to remove limits on presidential terms, rather defeats the point of having a constitution. )

    • Bolivia’s economy remains dependent upon cocaine. Natural gas has been in a downtrend for 14 years and zinc for almost two years.

      • Two US Senators dressed in antifa black intoning “democracy” with Hong Kong ex-Governor Patten in tow is not interference?
        I suppose many naively think Nuland handed only cookies out at Maidan, and not the $5 billion a nazi government in Kiev cost over years?

        • That’s right. It’s not interference when US senators express report for pro-democracy demonstrators. Few are better qualified to comment on Hong Kong’s struggle to maintain its freedom than Patten?

          Interference would be China and Russia giving money to Morales and Maduro and, as Putin did, sending his armed forces to back Maduro and fly gold out of the country. Chavez’ daughter fled to Cuba with looted billions under Putin’s wing. Her ill-gotten gains are stashed in many of the same banks as Putin’s stolen hundreds of billions.

          Do you actually believe that only American funding caused the Maiden revolt? Hope you enjoy working conditions in your St. Petersburg boiler room.

          • $5 billion as boasted by both the ex-ambassador and Nuland herself. All US taxpayer funded nazis, done in the name of “liberty”. Running that show it turns out was none other than MI6 Christopher Steele, of dodgy-dossier infamy.
            In other words exactly the same swamp now after Trump.

            So Obama’s viceroy Biden, hit-woman Nuland should have shared the Obama Peace Prize for killing Ukraine and Libya? Not to mention Blair and Bush killing Iraq. I’ll leave Hilary for another day.

            President Trump vowed to stop this, it produces a lot of body-bags he has to sign condolences for which he hates to do.

  12. ‘Bolivia’s enormous lithium reserves’ I’m sure people in these columns have been telling me there is a shortage of lithium and/or it is all in china?

    • Yes, there is a shortage, and the economic deposits are virtually all in saline lakes, but only in saline lakes well inland and preferably at high altitude where the salts are derived from leaching of continental rocks, and not diluted by sea-salt particles in the air.

      Consequently mostly in the Andean altiplano and high Asia (e. g. China, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia).

      • You should look at the market price some time, there’s no alleged shortage, the price has been falling for about 22 months, since a peaking at the end of 2018, and an all time peak in 2011, of about same size.

        As demand goes up production rises. it takes time for mines to open, when they do the price plummets.

  13. There was a classic Maidan regime-change foisted on Bolivia, with radical nazi’s, as in Ukraine, supported by the usual US/British deep pockets, or deep state”. “Conservative” – what a joke!
    Now the illegitimate self-declared usurper, with bible in hand, calls for none other than Venezuela’s imposter Guaido, to arrange an embassy!
    Interesting how Chicago-Boy Guaido, preened for years in the USA, follows in Pinochet’s “liberal” footsteps, or rather goosesteps?
    Now , no surprise, the usurper declares liberalization of markets, i.e., starvation of the population.
    All very classic Milton Friedman, Mont Pelerin Society stuff. Hardly Russian.
    That website is extreme anti-russian Government, likely Atlantic Council pedigree.
    See Max Blumenthal at Grayzone.

    • Guaido was not preened for years in the USA. He was educated in Venezuela, not the US.

      His party belongs to the Socialist International. He represents a poor district, which previously supported chavistas.

      Maduro clearly stole the election, which is why most Latin American countries recognize Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

      • Recall that Guaido did his graduate work at George Washington University where he enrolled in the nebulous-sounding “Governance and Political Management” program, under the tutelage of the rabid Friedmanite economist, Luis Berrizabetia, a former executive director at the IMF. He was trained by CANVAS – see Max Blumenthal’s expose.
        His handler at State is likely Kimberly Breier, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

        With Iran-Contra Felon Elliott Abrams involved, hey this is not rocket science.

        • No, he didn’t. He attended an institute in Caracas associated with GWU.

          You really ought to know something about Latin America before presuming to comment upon it.

          • Know about the IMF, the Chicago Boys, all not indigenous, and you see the foisted disasters over decades imposed from without.

            Looks like Iran-Contra all over again.

          • I see no resemblance whatsoever to the liberation of Nicaragua from genocidal communists, as that involved supporting freedom fighters.

            The Chicago Boys were in Chile, which thanks them for creating the only First World economy and political system in Latin America. When and if Chile votes to change its constitution, it won’t kill the private property and market economy goose which has laid so many golden eggs.

          • I should say temporarily liberating, since they’ve returned and are once again violantly suppressing the majority.

      • According to Ricardo Hausmann, former Venezuelan minister and China basher, the operation to recognize Juan Guaido as legitimate president of Venezuela was coordinated internationally, including with the IMF. Hausmann stated this in Davos. Hausmann is Director of the Center for International
        Development at Harvard University and a professor of economics at the Harvard Kennedy School.

        Davos is a charmingly poor district. The Harvard Kennedy School, I would say is hardly “socialist”?

        • Guaido doesn’t represent Davos.

          No coordination was required for Latin American, Western and Asian countries to recognize the legitimate president of Venezuela.

          A regime which forces 20% of its population to flee the country and has impoverished most of the rest has no legitimacy. Before socialism, Venezuela was the richest Latin American country, even if with income inequality. Maduro lost fair and square, but refuses to go, backed by military officers bought off with drug smuggling dough, Chinese payola and by Cuban and Russian troops.

          • Guido, ” the legitimate president of Venezuela.” How does that work ? He boycotted the election. Now you think he won it? LOL

          • It works the way the constitution works.

            Guaido was elected fair and square, with the rest of the anti-Maduro legislature.

            Maduro was not elected fair and square, so the office of president is vacant. Thus the President of the National Assembly takes over.

            Why are you laughing?

        • You put the words “Harvard” and “Kennedy” in the same sentence, you’re staring at socialism, junior.

        • The Harvard Kennedy School, I would say is hardly “socialist”?

          Really? There’s a school that isn’t socialist? Well slap me around and call me Susan.

      • And he faces serious death threats from those he simply cannot manage to appease – he even legalized a form of nazism.

        • Is there any Putin propaganda too far-fetched for you to spew? Or is doing so your job?

          Ukrainian nationalists fighting Stalin weren’t Nazis. No fascism required to strike back against the communists who shot and starved your family, friends and neighbors.

          • You mean Stefan Bandera? The SS collaborator? His followers have threatened Zelensky.

            Interesting how the “west” funds these kinds. Have a look at the NSDAP funding in 1932 by Harimann Bro’s, Morgan Montegue of the BofE.

            You see, as Abba Lerner, a NY liberal economist blurted out in a 1971 public debate “If the Germans had accepted austerity, Hitler would not have been necessary”.

            Austerity meaning Bank of International Settlements founder Hjalmar Schacht, who as Hitler’s economics minister copied labor camps from the Boer War.

            This is even too embarrassing for the EU.

          • Bandera was released from a Gestapo dungeon to fight Communists. Doesn’t make him a Nazi. Stalin mass murdered millions of Ukrainians. How do you expect them to react?

            Were the Finns fighting the Communists Nazis, too? Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Belarussian partisans, Crimean Tatars?

        • Putin’s opponents not only face death threats, but often are in fact murdered, or suffer botched attempts.

  14. I find it quite disturbing that more than once WUWT is being hijacked for regime-change geo-politics, all in the name of “liberal” economics, i.e. Milton Friedman Chicago Boys.
    As the entire Dem party is already hijacked, as are the press and intelligence agencies, it looks like WUWT is facing the same pressure.

    Climate and regime-change are indeed intimately linked – XR and F4F sure look like regime-change precursors. And Green Finance is openly declared to be “regime change” by the likes of Bank of England governor Mark Carney.

    • I remember the day you first showed up at WUWT bonbon, your comments were universally panned for their absurd ‘political’ and ideological contents. You only toned it down so you wouldn’t get booted or else endlessly laughed at. But you still haven’t come to terms with the fact that pushing transparent sophomoric ideological ‘subversion’ narratives won’t fly in here.

      Road to Nowhere:

  15. From the article: “For now, the price of our renewable revolution is toxic waste, child exploitation, bloodshed, revolution and oppression.”

    And it is all unnecessary, considering that there is no evidence/reason that humans need to reduce their CO2 output, and considering that nuclear electricity generation can be done without producing any CO2, and will not bankrupt the economies of the world.

    The people who foisted this CAGW Lie on the world have a lot to answer for. Think of the misery they have caused and will cause because of the lies they have told. CAGW is a Monumental Fraud on humanity.

  16. The Green Energy Lithium Rush is Destabilising South America

    Ha! I’m wondering about this soo impartial view on the problem.

    How may PCs, handys and smartphones did you buy until now, Eric Worall?
    Never heard about this nice, pleasant stuff called Coltan?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coltan#Ethics_of_mining_in_the_Democratic_Republic_of_Congo

    Your article reminds me these innumerable articles about Neodymium being in heavy use by many windmills, but totally ignoring that the same material is since decades in heaviest use for… hard disks in all computers (recent SSD devices of course luckily excluded).

  17. Salute!

    Remember that lithium has a sinister use, so could be valued for more than Tesla batteries.

    see Castle Bravo

    Gums sends….

    • Not just the Castle Bravo shot. Even today, most thermonuclear explosives still rely on lithium deuteride, in which weapons the fissioning plutonium spark plug emits free neutrons, which collide with lithium nuclei to supply the tritium component of the fuel.

  18. I hear you guys. Putin interfered with a student council election in my neighbourhood too. The bastard seems to interfere with all elections everywhere. We need to spend more money on the military. Electric tanks and solar-powered aeroplanes should be a priority.

    • Wow! You’re working overtime there in the digital sweatshops of Novgorod the Great! Hope you’re paid in hard currency rather than worthless rubles.

  19. For now, the price of our renewable revolution is toxic waste, child exploitation, bloodshed, revolution and oppression.

    Oh yes!

    But there will be quite another user of lithium, should ITER and DEMO really succeed in prototyping the industrial use of nuclear fusion for electricity production.

    Many people think nuclear fusion is the future promising clean and cheap energetic abundance.

    The only valuable fusion pair is, for lots of technical reasons, D+T, i.e. deuterium and tritium (it is unfortunately the worst one as well, but Lawson criterium and Coulomb force can’t be so easily bypassed as happens in our giant Sun).

    Deuterium is available in huge quantities, but tritium does not exist in natural form (at best 5 kg worldwide over the oceans).

    Thus, like in 4G reactors breeding Pu239 in U238 blankets by neutron bombardment, tritium has to be breeded, and the only available source for this process is… lithium, he he (together with beryllium to make that neutron bombardment more efficient).

    { How they will manage to accurately store this tritium I don’t know: it is probably the most volatile substance on Earth, able to bypass even some steels. }

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