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

Lithium Turmoil: Chilean President Gabriel Boric Squeezing Miners

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Interesting times for green leaders like President Biden and UK PM Boris Johnson; As the green revolution drives up prices, freshly elected far left Chilean President Gabriel Boric has shaken the Lithium industry, by promising everyone in Chile a larger slice of the Lithium pie.

Chile Rewrites Its Constitution, Confronting Climate Change Head On

Chile has lots of lithium, which is essential to the world’s transition to green energy. But anger over powerful mining interests, a water crisis and inequality has driven Chile to rethink how it defines itself.

By Somini Sengupta

Photographs by Marcos Zegers

Dec. 28, 2021 Updated 4:23 p.m. ET

Leer en español

SALAR DE ATACAMA, Chile — Rarely does a country get a chance to lay out its ideals as a nation and write a new constitution for itself. Almost never does the climate and ecological crisis play a central role.

That is, until now, in Chile, where a national reinvention is underway. After months of protests over social and environmental grievances, 155 Chileans have been elected to write a new constitution amid what they have declared a “climate and ecological emergency.”

And so, it falls to the Constitutional Convention to decide what kind of country Chile wants to be. Convention members will decide many things, including: How should mining be regulated, and what voice should local communities have over mining? Should Chile retain a presidential system? Should nature have rights? How about future generations?

Chile prospered by exploiting its natural riches: copper and coal, salmon and avocados. But even as it became one of Latin America’s richest nations, frustrations mounted over inequality. Mineral-rich areas became known as “sacrifice zones” of environmental degradation. Rivers began drying up.

Anger boiled over into huge protests starting in 2019. A national referendum followed, electing a diverse panel to rewrite the constitution.

On Dec. 19 came another turning point. Voters elected Gabriel Boric, a 35-year-old former student activist, as president. He had campaigned to expand the social safety net, increase mining royalties and taxes, and create a national lithium company.

The morning after his victory, the stock price of the country’s biggest lithium producer, Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile, or SQM, fell 15 percent.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/28/climate/chile-constitution-climate-change.html

While Chile is not the only global source of Lithium, Chile is a major player, producing 22% of global supply. Any interruption to Chilean Lithium production could stress an already tight market, potentially disrupting global electric vehicle rollout plans.

My guess is international miners are wondering whether Gabriel Boric is another Hugo Chavez, whether Chile will suffer the same anti-capitalist madness which crashed oil production in Venezuela.

Lithium mining is as simple as mining gets, take salt rich brine and let it dry in the sun. But far left socialists in Venezuela can’t even get food production right, so the risk of politically driven collapse of Chilean Lithium production hangs over the entire industry.

There is no substitute for Lithium for portable devices or electric vehicles. While scientists are exploring battery technologies based on chemically similar but much more common elements like sodium (as in sodium chloride – table salt), Lithium has one overwhelming advantage over the alternatives – it is incredibly lightweight. Lithium is the first metal on the periodic table, half the density of water.

Battery weight is a big issue for EVs. Moving from Lithium to far heavier Sodium based batteries could add significantly to battery weight. Though having said that, atom for atom, Sodium does pack a bit more punch than Lithium. It remains to be seen whether this extra punch is enough to compensate for the additional weight.

Interesting times for Lithium miners, and for green leaders like President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who have bet a lot of political capital on a rapid transition to affordable electric vehicles.

Correction (EW): h/t William Wilson – Lithium has a stronger reduction potential than sodium, so in principle Lithium packs more “punch”.

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December 28, 2021 10:21 pm

Chile has lots of lithium, which is essential to the world’s transition to green energy. But anger over powerful mining interests, a water crisis and inequality has driven Chile to rethink how it defines itself.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  zee raja
December 28, 2021 10:54 pm

Was there supposed to be a comment included there?

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
December 28, 2021 11:39 pm


The intention is to get readers to click on his/her name which takes them to a weird website

I didn’t click on it myself, just hovered over the name

Mods: It may be worthwhile removing the link/comment

Last edited 1 year ago by Redge
Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Redge
December 29, 2021 3:48 am

I don’t click on commenters’ names ever unless I know and trust them. Anyone clicking on random links deserves the viruses that they get.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 29, 2021 12:44 pm

Just past the URL into Virus Total which will check against boatload of antivirus engines. It’s now owned by Google. Works great.
Happy New Year!

Leo Smith
December 28, 2021 10:22 pm

What the world needs is a lithium asteroid, captured and placed in orbit…

When even lithium isnt good enough for batteries – and it isn’t – BEVs are teering on the edge of viability – large parts of the green plan become pure nonsense

Reply to  Leo Smith
December 28, 2021 11:40 pm

“large parts of the green plan become are pure nonsense”

You’re welcome 😉

Robert W Turner
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 29, 2021 3:56 pm

I think now is a good time to buy LTHM as they are the most diversified lithium miner that isn’t exposed to Chile at all. I’m still waiting to see if LAC will get their Nevada projects off the ground before buying.

Regardless, the world will be in a permanent lithium shortage by around 2028 even without incompetent activists taking charge in the world’s largest producer to show them how its done.

James H
December 28, 2021 10:34 pm

Seems like Chile may not have learned much from Venezuela. Maybe they feel they can truly implement socialism the right way this time. There will be a period of apparent prosperity and happiness for many as the mining profits are raided. Then production will start to fall as these operations require reinvesting profits, and the. There is another Venezuela. It will all be the fault of “hoarders and wreckers” in the end, not the predictable end-stage of socialism.

Reply to  James H
December 29, 2021 12:03 am

Yes. But don’t forget those naughty kulaks!

Have to get rid of them as well!

Anyone who has ever worked hard and lived prudently is a suspect!

Reply to  James H
December 29, 2021 1:51 am

Seems like Chile may not have learned much from Venezuela....

…or from its own history. Chile was saved once before from the economic disaster caused by excessive taxation and govt ownership of industry when Milton Friedman was clled in to institute his economic theories….Another emprirical example of succesful capitalism vs failing socialism. https://www.hoover.org/research/how-milton-friedman-saved-chile

Ron Long
Reply to  James H
December 29, 2021 1:54 am

James H, it is even worse than just Chile lurching toward Venezuela. As a Mining Exploration Geologist (and business) consultant I have recently been contacted by mining companies with interests in Chile, Argentina, and Peru, about developing producing assets totally outside all of Latin America. There is not doubt that Latin America is a very mixed population and therefore has a very mixed social/economic status, but killing the Golden Goose only makes things worse.

Reply to  Ron Long
December 29, 2021 8:15 am

It’s been said that tho South America is perhaps the most beautiful continent, it has been populated by some of the most evil people ever.

Rich Davis
Reply to  beng135
December 29, 2021 8:50 am

Right. Some famous evil South Americans: Mao Zedong, Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Genghis Khan, Caligula, just to pick a random sample.

Reply to  Rich Davis
December 29, 2021 1:29 pm

Hitler only became a South American after he faked his death in Berlin in 1945 and took a secret U-boat to Brazil where he lived out the rest of his life peacefully in exile. So, I wouldn’t classify him as South American, but as a retiree.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Anon
December 29, 2021 1:57 pm

And an undocumented immigrant, therefore a victim of impending climate change or something.

Reply to  Ron Long
December 29, 2021 8:25 am

Geologist here. Spent many years in S. America, mostly in the copper mines in Chile and Peru. So the new guy in Chile is going to nationalize the lithium industry. Good luck with that. History says that tactic is a loser and Chile tried it once before in the 1970’s with copper; Peru as well; and of course more recently Venezuela and the oil industry. I feel for my Chileno friends and their families as they appear to be headed off the cliff.

Reply to  James H
December 29, 2021 3:51 am

Don’t forget, under capitalism, the most competent become managers of a business; under socialism, the most the well-connected politically become managers, and almost always these people are incompetent.

Reply to  Wade
December 29, 2021 4:39 am

Ever read the “Peter Principal” or the follow-on book “Why Things Go Wrong”? Businesses would like to think they make competent people managers, but being competent in a skill doesn’t necessarily make you a good manager.

Loren C. Wilson
Reply to  Spetzer86
December 29, 2021 6:04 am

I’ve had a lot of managers over my career. Couldn’t agree with you more. Technical competence and good leadership are extremely rare. Even a person who is technically competent and a decent manager (not leader) is hard to find and worth retaining. I had a few good ones, a few mediocre ones, and a couple of really bad managers who were top in their technical fields.

Reply to  Loren C. Wilson
December 29, 2021 6:55 am

All correct, but still better than what you get in a politically-connected situation, which in many cases can never be fixed. At some point the “technical competence but poor manager/leader” gets moved/changed out for someone better.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Loren C. Wilson
December 29, 2021 7:56 am

And there is the worst of both–incompetent at both, yet somehow manages to always fail upward.

Reply to  Carlo, Monte
December 29, 2021 10:28 am

lets go brandon

Reply to  Carlo, Monte
December 29, 2021 10:29 am

lets go kammdon (Brammila?)

Last edited 1 year ago by DonM
Rich Davis
Reply to  Spetzer86
December 29, 2021 8:58 am

Almost everyone is competent at some task. Not all are competent at the process of management. I’ve noticed that people who are the best at making machines do things are often among the worst at getting people to do things, and vice versa.

Reply to  Rich Davis
December 30, 2021 6:58 am

When I was younger I wanted desperately to be the technical manager, king of the egg heads, the most accomplished metallurgist in the company. Once in the post I realised it wasn’t really about that at all, no wonder I never rated my predecessors. But I still think I did a good job of it, there was a definite pivot to doing things right technically and I looked after my people,.

Citizen Smith
Reply to  James H
December 29, 2021 8:15 am

Chile has already seen this. In 1970 they elected the socialist Allende that wrecked a strong economy to the point they couldn’t feed themselves, provide medicine or even toothpaste. Pinoche was the eventual result. Odd how socialism keeps repeating itself despite the harsh lessons. Leave it to a 35 year old student activist to rediscover it. This time it will be different.

Citizen Smith
Reply to  Citizen Smith
December 29, 2021 8:23 am

One more thing. Venezuela is where many of the opposition intellectuals, business owners and investment class took refuge from vengeful apparatchik repurposing soccer fields. Not this time.

Rich Davis
Reply to  James H
December 29, 2021 8:43 am

Every generation must falsify the hypothesis that socialism will work this time. Sad for Chile. Probably another cycle of Allende/Pinochet.

Robert Hanson
Reply to  Rich Davis
December 30, 2021 1:07 pm

Pinochet may have been a ruthless dictator, but he saved the country from the ruin of Socialism and turned it into one of the most economically prosperous countries in Latin/South America. Then when the job was done, and he lost a fair election, he withdrew from power. The only thing worse than “another cycle of Allende/Pinochet” would be a cycle of Chavez, Maduro, and the like, with no Pinochet to come to the rescue.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Robert Hanson
December 30, 2021 6:01 pm

Pinochet’s regime was responsible for thousands of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, and torture. Allende was a disaster economically. I would decline to choose either of them.

Reply to  Rich Davis
December 30, 2021 10:36 pm

Nobody I know approves of government killings. Not the thousands in Chile, not the tens of thousands in Argentina, and not the hundreds of thousands in Venezuela.

Funny how the leftists never talk about the deaths in Venezuela.

Rich Davis
December 31, 2021 3:59 pm

The Holodomor wasn’t mentioned either.

They have seen the future, and it works. (Just step over the bodies)

Zig Zag Wanderer
December 28, 2021 11:11 pm

Well, there we go. Yet another ‘worker’s paradise’ in the making. Every time a country gets wealthy enough that people have time to bleat about inequalities, they seem to insist on destroying whatever created that wealth.


James B.
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 29, 2021 12:20 pm

It’s happening in the U.S.A. now.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 29, 2021 4:38 pm

The 2019-20 riots in Chile, which led to Boric’s election, were sparked by hikes in bus fares instituted by climate alarmists. In Santiago 81 metro stations sustained major damage, including 17 burned down. In addition more than 120 Walmart supermarkets were looted or burned.

Chile is one of the world’s most ardent climate change action proponents. They introduced a Climate Change Framework Law with zero emissions targets. The hikes in fuel prices hurt the urban poor directly, already reeling from low wages and high taxes. The upwelling poverty was the major issue in the election, which the socialist extremists won.

As noted, a new constitution is being drafted that will make climate alarmism a key policy. Everything that is harming the working class will be codified. They are on their way to economic suicide.

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 30, 2021 11:35 am

I spent time in Argentina and Chile in the 1990’s when we discovered a sodium borate mine – probably the highest mine on the planet at the time, located at ~14,000 feet elevation.

Chile was great post-Pinochet, by far the best country in South America in terms of rule-of-law and prosperity. Argentina was still economically suffering after years of socialist chaos, the generals, etc.

Both countries had suffered hyper-inflation under the Marxists – a hotel room cost ~200,000 to 300,000 pesos per night – years before that sum would buy a house.

After WW2, Argentina was one of the wealthiest countries in the world – just shows you what a few determined socialists can do when they set out to ruin the economy – like Biden in the USA, Trudeau in Canada, and BloJo in the UK.

This economic destruction is viewed by many as an error of socialism – I think it is deliberate – a feature of socialism – which really is a return to absolute monarchy – a few wealthy princes at the top, looking down at all the poor peasants. Maybe Pinochet was correct.

January 2, 2022 10:08 am

“After WW2, Argentina was one of the wealthiest countries in the world”

It should read, In 1900, Argentina was one of the wealthiest countries in the world

glenn holdcroft
December 28, 2021 11:22 pm

Socialism seems to be a great example of ‘Einstein’s definition of insanity .

Tom Abbott
Reply to  glenn holdcroft
December 29, 2021 4:25 am

Good way to put it.

December 28, 2021 11:46 pm

After months of protests over social and environmental grievances, 155 Chileans have been elected to write a new constitution amid what they have declared a “climate and ecological emergency.”

Much like the UK’s climate change committee where a “random” selection of the population was invited to advise on how the UK government were to fight climate change.

It appears the committee, force-fed climate catastrophism by the likes of Attenborough etc, didn’t include any sceptics only believers who didn’t question anything.

Reply to  Redge
December 29, 2021 12:22 am

In no way were those selections random.

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
December 29, 2021 1:10 am

Hence the ” ” around “random”

On the outer Barcoo
Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
December 29, 2021 4:56 am

Do we hear the cry “Lets go random?”

James Bull
Reply to  On the outer Barcoo
January 1, 2022 7:17 am

It’s not directly linked apart from the desire for full government control but I found this very funny.

James Bull

Vincent Causey
Reply to  Redge
December 29, 2021 12:58 am

There is a sceptic, apparently (according to a non sceptic member), but he/she? was made to believe they had to take climate change seriously. In other words, put aside their scepticism. This “go along to get along” makes a mockery of the whole process in the first place.

Reply to  Vincent Causey
December 29, 2021 1:11 am

1 sceptic out of 100 people does not reflect UK society

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Redge
December 29, 2021 2:37 am

Certainly doesn’t reflect people who comment on Manmade Climate Change articles in th Press and BBC. I’m not sure how that reflects society
There used to be an unwritten rule never discuss religion or politics at a dinner party, Climate Change should be included under the religion category.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
December 29, 2021 3:54 am

My preferred response to anyone pushing the CAGW agenda in casual conversation is to laugh (if well-acquainted I might give a gentle ‘push’ to the torso), and comment on how funny they are. Then change the subject.

If they persist, I back off and leave them to it, but adopt a surprised expression to indicate that I assumed that they were joking.

Last edited 1 year ago by Zig Zag Wanderer
Tom Abbott
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 29, 2021 4:28 am

I would have to get a “wrong” in there somewhere. It’s hard to ignore climate misinformation. 🙂

Andrew Wilkins
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 29, 2021 5:11 am

I just ask them if they understand what a logarithmic curve is. They go very quiet after that.

Richard Hill
December 29, 2021 12:26 am

Agree about disruption of the lithium market in the short term, but there are other sources, and the “free” market will adjust easily.

On the outer Barcoo
Reply to  Richard Hill
December 29, 2021 4:57 am

Like neighboring Argentina? Good luck with that!

Reply to  Richard Hill
December 29, 2021 5:23 am
December 29, 2021 1:20 am

And how is this different from any other resource which is or has been in demand?

Robert Hanson
Reply to  Eric Worrall
December 30, 2021 1:33 pm

Doesn’t matter how “unaffordable” they are:
1 Most people don’t want them
2 There aren’t enough of the rare earth elements to build Millions of them, whether or not Chile destroys their Lithium supply the way that Venezuela did with it’s oil.
3 EVs won’t work in the North where it’s cold, in the West where people need to drive long distances, and trying to charge Millions of them every evening will cause the grid to collapse even faster than it was going to collapse without them.
Other than that, no problem.

Reply to  griff
December 29, 2021 2:26 am

Actually I would challenge you to show that true in general or even specifically … you make an dropkick artform of claims with no backup.

I think we should start a griff check for each dropkick claim.

Last edited 1 year ago by LdB
Reply to  griff
December 29, 2021 3:24 am

1) Most other resources are not far short of what global politicians claim is needed for a supposedly urgent problem.
2) Most other resources don’t have 22% of the supply controlled by one country.

The only exception is rare earths, which also are needed in greater quantities for the unreliable power generation from wind and solar than for sensible power sources demonized by the evil and ignorant.

Reply to  Ted
December 29, 2021 4:48 am

But China is on such good terms with everyone and isn’t showing any signs of increasing militarism, war mongering, or expansionism…

Rich Davis
Reply to  Ted
December 29, 2021 9:11 am

Here’s my crazy prediction. Chile collapses their production of lithium which causes a spike in global prices which drives intensive investment in new sources which leads to a massive glut. Oversupply causes plummeting prices that bankrupt all but the lowest cost suppliers. Still the EVs won’t work because an uncharged battery won’t take you far and unreliable electricity won’t be available or affordable.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  griff
December 29, 2021 4:00 am

And how is this different from any other resource which is or has been in demand?

Absolutely none at all. Almost every single seriously in-demand resource has been curtailed by socialist agenda.

Coal, oil, gas, nuclear, electricity, freedom, you name it…

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 29, 2021 10:45 am

… innovation ….

Reply to  griff
December 29, 2021 7:55 am

It isn’t. What’s noteworthy is the utter surprise of the global warming enthusiasts when basic capitalism kicks em in the nuts once again.

Reply to  griff
December 29, 2021 10:43 am

O.K., I’ll answer, but I don’t think there is any way it will stick to your teflon greymatter.

The demand is essentially manufactured (it is not the result of true need). Any attempt to fabricate a way to take advantage of a manufactured demand will result in the failure at the fabrication level … the original manufactured demand will slump because there was no REAL reason for it.

Lithium prices will bump slightly, but Chile will lose market share and net revenue as a result of their inefficiency.

William Wilson
December 29, 2021 1:31 am

Completely wrong. Sodium does not pack more punch than lithium. The electrode potential of lithium is -3.04, that of sodium is -2.71.

Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  William Wilson
December 29, 2021 1:53 am

A Sodium based battery would be about 3 times the weight of a Lithium based one.

Rick W Kargaard
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
December 30, 2021 6:39 am

That makes sodium impractical for mobile devices but but cost and volume are bigger factors for fixed installations. That makes many applications where an alternative to lithium is practical.

Reply to  William Wilson
December 29, 2021 2:19 am

Do we know how a Sodium based battery burns ?

Reply to  Robertvd
December 29, 2021 2:34 am

If you know your chemistry it will burn, it also reacts with water to release hydrogen which will also burn 🙂

Loren C. Wilson
Reply to  Robertvd
December 29, 2021 6:10 am

At least as well as a lithium battery. The reactivity with water increases (rate-wise) as you go down the column. I watched a video of dropping a small piece of lithium in water. It fizzled. Then a slice of sodium – rapid reaction. Potassium was an immediate whoosh and flame (hard to see because it’s hydrogen). The narrator then stated that rubidium and cesium could not be demonstrated because the reaction was too violent. I was disappointed.

Reply to  Loren C. Wilson
December 29, 2021 12:45 pm

Cesium packs a punch.

michael hart
Reply to  William Wilson
December 31, 2021 3:14 am

Glad that got corrected. People, often Chemists, sometimes mistake the rate at which reactions happen with the amount of energy released.

Boff Doff
December 29, 2021 1:33 am

“Socialism always begins with a universal vision for the brotherhood of man and ends with people having to eat their own pets.“ – Toby Young.

Reply to  Boff Doff
December 29, 2021 2:25 am

That’s the idea. In the mind of a greeny Pets are bad because they increase greenhouse gases. The problem is eating meat is also bad in their opinion.

On the outer Barcoo
Reply to  Robertvd
December 29, 2021 5:02 am

Eagles eat meat; sparrows eat seeds and bugs.

Bryan A
Reply to  On the outer Barcoo
December 29, 2021 6:22 am

Animals are BAD…
This world would be a much better place f it were just filled with Vegetables and Minerals


Reply to  Bryan A
December 29, 2021 6:16 pm

Yeah, and I don’t understand all the fuss over organic foods. I prefer inorganic food, myself.

Rick W Kargaard
Reply to  H.R.
December 30, 2021 6:43 am

Yeah, you can lose a lot of weight on a diet of salt.

Gary S
Reply to  Bryan A
December 30, 2021 2:05 am

Plenty of vegetables in Australia at the moment – most of them are involved in running the place.

Rick W Kargaard
Reply to  Gary S
December 30, 2021 6:45 am

In Canada they even manage to stay green in -40 degree winter weather.

Reply to  Boff Doff
December 31, 2021 12:02 am

Or their own children in the worth case. Refer Holodomor.

Reply to  Boff Doff
January 2, 2022 10:20 am

Boff, whatever operates in a vacuum produces nothing of value.

Ed Zuiderwijk
December 29, 2021 2:04 am

It all depends. In the 70s Allende nationalised Anaconda Copper. When he was forcibly removed by Pinochet in the 1973 coup the new government, wisely, did not reverse that and kept the company in state ownership. If that new Lithium company is run along the same lines the market will quiet down.

Incidentally, the incoming president can actually read. I always doubted that Maduro can. Chile will likely not follow Venezuela down the drain.

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
December 30, 2021 8:28 am

Why was it wise not to reverse the nationalization? Because the Soviet model works?
Of course markets calm down when governments crush them. So do populations; it’s the socialist model.
If you think collectivization works despite the misery it has brought throughout human history then you’ve no business critiquing Maduro’s brainpower.

December 29, 2021 2:06 am

“Voters elected Gabriel Boric, a 35-year-old former student activist, as president.”

Activists don’t seem like good leaders.

Reply to  Derg
December 29, 2021 3:35 am

In their thirties, men have ambition but lack wisdom of experiences in life including setbacks and recovery.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Derg
December 29, 2021 4:34 am

He’s a socilaist so how smart can he be?

Curious George
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 29, 2021 7:55 am

He never completed his degree.

Reply to  Derg
December 29, 2021 4:51 am

I’d say that men in their 30s make amazing leaders. You just might not want to end up where they’re going.

Reply to  Spetzer86
December 29, 2021 7:58 am

According to Ed above, if you can read, you should be able to make socialism work.

Reply to  Derg
January 2, 2022 10:24 am

Derg, activists are like batteries, start strong and in time peter out.

Edo Tokyo
December 29, 2021 3:01 am

And lithium-based batteries are good for the environment. You can compost them & use them in your garden. Who is kidding whom: they’re swapping one environmental hazard for another. It’s a money-power grab to oust the establishment fossil fuel industry & redistribute wealth. This push towards electric cars is ridiculous – CA & TX have shown us they can’t even compensate for increased power requirements because of temporary weather conditions. How are they expected to provide the constant energy demand for millions of cars? They’re not – the average person will suffer, not the elitists.

December 29, 2021 4:14 am

Mr. Worrall,
Your statement that Chile can’t produce food is utterly wrong.
Chile provides a huge amount of agriculture exports to the US, among other destinations.
The issue has never been whether they can produce – the question is if the natives are getting a fair share or if the multinational corporations are screwing them.
Lithium production requires a lot of water – it doesn’t seem to be at all impossible that the water rights of regular Chileans in lithium areas are being trampled in favor of the lithium mining megacorp.

Reply to  c1ue
December 29, 2021 7:34 am

Get a c1ue:
Chile is very productive now because it is a capitalist oasis. Give it a few years and Chile will be importing food. That is what socialism does. Yeah, yeah, I know, Venezuela wasn’t REAL socialism.

Rich Davis
Reply to  JamesD
December 29, 2021 9:33 am

Venezuela is still run by Maduro last I checked. So Venezuela hasn’t reached the point where teenagers who never experienced Chavez/Maduro can be certain that their idiot parents are wrong and that real socialism has never been tried.

Reply to  JamesD
December 30, 2021 8:55 am

How utterly irrelevant. Venezuela has never been an agriculture powerhouse like Chile, nor is Chile under decades of economic warfare/sanctions including seizure of national bank accounts.
Nor is it anywhere clear that being “Communist” means low economic growth, anymore.
China – you have noticed that they’ve gone from 6% of US GDP in 1984 to at/over parity now?
It is sad indeed when people are so lost in their ideological tunnel vision that they cannot look at the simple facts.

Robert Hanson
Reply to  c1ue
December 30, 2021 1:49 pm

Nor is it anywhere clear that being “Communist” means low economic growth, anymore. China…”

China has been in no way Communist. They for a while tried a mix of crony capitalism with CCP political dictatorship, Funded by stealing technology from the West. Two problems with that. First the corruption endemic in crony capitalism, And secondly, once people start to become more prosperous, they start craving more political freedom. So Xi is taking the country back towards real communism, with the predictable economic decline in result. The more Xi clamps down, the more the economy will tank. Evergrande is just the canary in the coal mine.

Reply to  c1ue
January 2, 2022 10:35 am
Dave Fair
Reply to  c1ue
December 29, 2021 1:14 pm

A “fair share” is what? Profits from Lithium mining in Chile won’t go far. If significant portions of profit are not reinvested in industry you get a Socialist Paradise. Social “needs” are infinite and a free market is the only way to ration goods and services without a collapse of the entire system over time. Welfare (other than private charity) is supposed to be a line-item in governmental budgets. To treat welfare as a responsibility of a group of individuals, a business, an industry or the entire productive capability of a country leads to resource misallocation and greater poverty. Punitive taxes, over-regulation and government ownership of business leads to greater poverty and a lack of economic growth which would otherwise benefit the entire population.

Politicians, bureaucrats and do-gooders of all kinds deny: 1) There is no free lunch; 2) you eventually run out of OPM; and 3) nobody can plan an entire economy.

Reply to  Dave Fair
December 30, 2021 8:57 am

Pretty weak commentary – since you did not address the specific issues I raised such as whether water rights for living people are being taken over in corporate interests.
As farmers and ranchers in California and other states are finding out – governments can and do have the power and right to control the usage of water. The question is who benefits.
But thank you for beating an ideological straw man to zero success.

Robert Hanson
Reply to  c1ue
December 30, 2021 1:51 pm

I thought it was a bravura summary.

Dave Fair
Reply to  c1ue
December 30, 2021 3:54 pm

To answer your question, c1ue “whether water rights for living people are being taken over in corporate interests:” I don’t care and wouldn’t care even if I understood the underlying local issues; I don’t have a dog in that fight. Anyway, “rights” are properly established in a nation’s Constitution and administered such that do-gooders have limited ability to gum up the works.

Thank you for bringing up the California water issue. I was the U.S. DOE, Western Area Power Administration, Sacramento Area Office’s Director in charge of water and power allocation studies and related contract negotiations. The laws and agreements that determined the “rights” and ultimate allocation of water and power from the various dams and canals of the Central Valley Project are extremely complex and technical and were developed over a long period of time by the various stakeholders. In one swell foop, though, Congress decided the Sacramento River Smelt (a fish) had more rights than existing long-term users, including farmers.

I guess one could say that the water rights for living people were taken over by large corporate environmental NGO interests. Describe the “fairness” of that.

Reply to  c1ue
December 29, 2021 2:45 pm

Yeah, I think there is something to that… just as globalization has hit the United States hard, it also hit Chile the same way. When a Walmart/Lider opens in a Chilean town it pretty much decimates all of the little supermercados and panaderías. The same for a Sodimac (~Home Depot) with the ferreterías, etc.

Under the same pressure I think the United States went in the Right-populist direction, whereas Chile has gone in the Left-populist direction?

It is just a theory/observation, so I could be wrong.

Tom Abbott
December 29, 2021 4:18 am

From the article: “Interesting times for Lithium miners, and for green leaders like President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who have bet a lot of political capital on a rapid transition to affordable electric vehicles.”

I don’t think we are going to see a rapid transition to electric vehicles. I think we will see a slow, gradual transition, in the private market place, anyway.

The only thing rapid about electric vehicles will be things like the government mandating all government vehicles be electric, and companies like Amazon who say they are going to buy 100,000 electric delivery vehicles.

Andrew Wilkins
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 29, 2021 5:33 am

Here in the UK, a transition to electric vehicles is taking place. I’m not talking about cars, instead I’m talking about electric bicycles. The transition has been totally market led and not government mandated.

It has nothing to do with the daft green idiocy about “saving the climate”. Instead, it’s all about demand for a product that answers people’s needs: as more cyclists have seen the benefits of the power of electric bikes compared to the huffing and puffing on a regular pedal cycle they have begun to buy them. Cycle couriers for both food and parcels have started using them. In addition, commuters (particularly in London) have realised that electric bicycles will make their journeys to work much cheaper compared to paying for a public transport season ticket.

The free market system has driven improvements in the tech and brought down prices as cycle manufacturers compete to get people’s custom. I’m a keen cyclist – I cycle a fixed gear bike an inch from death on London’s streets. However, I’m not getting any younger, and the knees are starting to complain. Now ebike prices are falling I’ll be buying an ebike in the New Year. I can’t wait!

Fewer cars on the streets means fewer traffic jams and less (genuine) pollution. It hasn’t taken a despotic govt diktat to promote the use of an electric vehicle, just capitalism.

Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
Reply to  Andrew Wilkins
December 29, 2021 6:50 am

An electric bike goes where and when you want – unlike public transport. I have used one in Beijing. It is incredibly convenient – even when it is very cold – compared with a car which has to be parked “somewhere”.

My concern about electric cars and trucks is: when will owners start having to pay the cost of road construction and maintenance? They are exempt now. How is that going to endure? Electric cars weigh significantly more than ICE cars, causing more wear and tear. If things were fair, they should be taxed more than ICE vehicles on the basis if damage alone. One way is to tax the vehicle per annum, enough to make up for the loss in revenue from gasoline and diesel sales.

In Singapore they have a decongestion plan that taxes the right to own a vehicle. To own a car, you have to pay ~$80,000 for the right to own a car, then buy the car. These rights are auctioned. A motorcycle is ~$4-7,000. If a Tesla owner had to pay up front for the taxes that would be lost during its estimated working life, no one would buy one. Fine, then do something else. Mileage tax based on GPS info? It should be on the order of 5-10 cents a mile. Fifty thousand miles a year – $5000. Pay on your birthday.

Andrew Wilkins
Reply to  Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
December 29, 2021 7:02 am

I don’t know how it works in the US, but here in the UK every household pays for road upkeep whether they own a car or not (what is called the “Council Tax”).
However, as you rightly point out, the loss in tax revenue from petrol sales would be massive if ICE vehicles were banned from UK roads. As per usual, that idiot Boris and his useless mob haven’t thought any of this through.

Rick W Kargaard
Reply to  Andrew Wilkins
December 30, 2021 7:06 am

At what point will a black market exist to compensate for ridiculous taxation.
In Canada, cigarettes are taxed beyond ridiculous for the purported purpose of reducing tobacco use. It probably succeeded to some degree in that purpose but has also enabled a huge black market that is impossible to control.
With more and more government control of the legitimate economy I expect to see a lot more back alley commerce, much like already quietly exists in socialist settings.

Reply to  Rick W Kargaard
January 7, 2022 4:06 pm

I seem to recall a similar experiment was tried just south of Canada a bit less than a hundred yours ago. Something to do with CH3CH2OH in an aqueous solution. Folks in Canada made a bundle.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Crispin Pemberton-Pigott
December 29, 2021 9:39 am

How about the government just gets their jackboot off our throat and lets the free market operate?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Andrew Wilkins
December 30, 2021 6:03 am

Good post, Andrew. I’m kind of interested in electric bikes myself.

Andrew Wilkins
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 30, 2021 6:18 am


Rick W Kargaard
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 30, 2021 7:09 am

I have one and love it, even though it gets limited use in deep freeze Canada.

Robert Hanson
Reply to  Rick W Kargaard
December 30, 2021 2:08 pm

They are especially great for taking the Family to Costco, and a soccer team to practice. And they are really popular at Lake Tahoe right now, which has gotten 210 inches of snow since the beginning of the December.

So for a single person, living downtown in a highly congested traffic area, with work being less than a mile away, it’s perfect. Unless it’s raining or snowing heavily. For a family of four living in the suburbs, forgedaboutit.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Robert Hanson
December 31, 2021 6:29 pm

Yeah I suppose you can keep it in your apartment and hope that the battery is small enough that it won’t catch the whole building on fire. Now imagine a building with 100 apartments each with two electric bikes made in China. What’s the probability that 200 high quality Chinese batteries will make it through a thousand charging cycles without any catching fire? I know I’d sleep well at night on the tenth floor.

Robert Hanson
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 30, 2021 1:58 pm

Yeah “a slow, gradual transition, in the private market place, anyway” from the 3 percent of vehicles sold now to 5%, maybe even 6% if the tax subsidies get passed.

Joel O’Bryan
December 29, 2021 4:33 am

Lots of liberals would also benefit from taking lithium internally.

On the outer Barcoo
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
December 29, 2021 5:06 am

Lithium is found in tobacco ash …

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
December 30, 2021 6:26 am

I’m sure a suppository form can be arranged.

December 29, 2021 4:45 am

There are noteworthy inventors in the history of the world. Great minds are gifted by God and their products, or variations thereof, are in use to this day The Democratic Party and all of its splintered monikers isn’t one of them. Their creations and objectives like global warming and all of its progeny like EVs, haven’t provided one iota of benefit to anyone but their elite members. And what have they done? Produced another period of global control, aka tyranny, with their Covid 19, hysteria producing lockdowns, and of course the concomitant results e.g. deadly malaise blanketing every generation of life. But their Pharma buddies, and allies in every sector of control over the people have made out just fine.

Andrew Wilkins
December 29, 2021 5:35 am

He had campaigned to expand the social safety net, increase mining royalties and taxes, and create a national lithium company

Socialism alert! Wait for the whole thing to go tits up now the lefties are in charge.

Peter Barrett
December 29, 2021 5:56 am

“155 Chileans have been elected to write a new constitution amid what they have declared a “climate and ecological emergency”.”

Those in the UK who hanker for a written constitution should look carefully at what emerges as the product of this exercise.

Douglas Pollock
December 29, 2021 5:57 am

This is a photograph of the new so-called Chilean president from a Chilean (me) that was born, raised, studied, married and had children in Chile during the best 35 years this country had ever experienced in his entire history (N° 1 in Latin America in all social and economic parameters since 1985, apart from having avoided two wars without losing a single square inch of territory nor a single gallon of ocean). All that is over and that fantastic story copied by the West (Pinochet came first, then came Thatcher and Reagan) is now a beautiful memory that my children will not be able to enjoy. Last week we (Chile) finally and definitely entered into the Black Hole of communist totalitarianism with this fanatic who came from the street riots. He admits ideas of the extreme left (“to the left of communism”, as he confessed), he has harassment and theft indictments, he is (was) a frequent evader of the subway (what he is proud of), twice failed in his law degree exam, he has not even raised a family and suffers from obsessive-compulsive mental disorder. So friends, I’m really looking for a job somewhere else. I wish you something that we will not see: a happy new year.

Reply to  Douglas Pollock
December 29, 2021 3:31 pm

Once upon a time some members of my family lived in Chile. They immigrated there because of the never ending wars in Europe. They had chandleries in Punta Arenas and Valparaiso, those went away with the end of sailing ships.
They also had large rice farms and dairies, those were confiscated by the Allende communists. Rice and Dairy production crashed and ended up having to be imported. The end result was that most of my relatives went back to Munich and Schleswig Holstein, a few remained in Chile and are there so far.
If I were you I would be looking to the northern hemisphere in case things go sour, I would do this with anticipation. During the Allende regime my relatives had to escape through passes to Argentina as they were not permitted to leave.
As for Borich, I expect him to be along the lines of Alexandr Lukashenko, not something from the Caribbean region.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Douglas Pollock
December 30, 2021 6:07 am

“So friends, I’m really looking for a job somewhere else.”

There are 11 million jobs unfilled in the United States.

Chris Wazza
Reply to  Douglas Pollock
December 31, 2021 5:08 pm

Australia is sacking all its skilled workers who exercise their right to choose to not to be part of a medical experiment. The prime minister is talking of ramping up immigration again. So if any of your family are skilled at mining, health care or hospitality and are vaccinated, you can probably apply

December 29, 2021 6:00 am

He signed his own death warrant. The West (CIA) will take him out. Probably suicide.

Reply to  MarcW
December 29, 2021 8:06 am

Not that the CIA ever did most of what the socialists claim, but the modern CIA wouldn’t take out socialists. They are more devoted to installing socialists, especially in the US.

Robert Hanson
Reply to  MarcW
December 30, 2021 2:14 pm

Just the way they have taken out Chavez, Maduro, lil Kim, etc. They are more concerned with investigating the Domestic Terrorists (sic) at School Board meetings..

December 29, 2021 6:43 am

The alarmist tone in this post is a typical red scare hit list for outside and uninformed audiences–and maybe to move markets. While Chile does have a former history of asset seizures of foreign owned mines and special exchange rates designed to tax copper miners, it is not going to commit hara-kari for the enviro cause. The mine workers union will have a say in that along with all the related equipment suppliers. But raising costs for the industry is not out of the question, akin to protests in the streets for fast food worker salaries in the U.S.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
December 29, 2021 7:37 am

Check out what happened to the tar upgraders in Vnezuela and then get back to us.

Reply to  JamesD
December 29, 2021 8:18 am

Check out Peru to see the differences.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
December 29, 2021 8:07 am

People said the same things about Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe, etc.

Reply to  MarkW
December 29, 2021 8:18 am

Projecting much

Reply to  ResourceGuy
December 29, 2021 9:43 am

Reporting, not projecting.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 2, 2022 10:50 am

RG, there is never an end to a Socsheviks’ agenda. They never run out of ideas.

Just take a close look at America’s urban ghettos. They are the only entity which builds
one failure upon another. Systemic serials failures.

December 29, 2021 6:51 am

Any interruption to Chilean Lithium production could stress an already tight market, potentially disrupting global electric vehicle rollout plans. — article

Well, if it makes the sale of firebomb cars like Tesla difficult, fine by me. If it slows the production of vehicles that are death traps, fine by me.

Perhaps sanity will return to the world some day.

Robert of Texas
December 29, 2021 9:03 am

If only we could invent a portable liquid “fuel” to replace lithium batteries. You would burn it with oxygen already in the air and its primary waste products would be something harmless like water and plant food. This fuel would be able to provide heat, mechanical motion, or even electricity as needed.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Robert of Texas
December 29, 2021 4:01 pm

I don’t believe it’s possible. Next you’ll be claiming that you could take a 1.5 ton car and 5 people several kilometres with just a cupful of this mythical liquid fuel!

December 29, 2021 9:31 am

“Voters elected Gabriel Boric, a 35-year-old former student activist, as president.”

So long Chile, the path of your future is now plain to see, and sad.

Last edited 1 year ago by Art
Reply to  Art
December 29, 2021 11:40 pm

Well that’s democracy for you.

If the voters of Chile decided to take a different economic path than what outsiders think is good for them then good luck to them.

And as long as the new President does not change laws to retain political power then this is simply one of the many swings which all democratic countries go through in the argument over how to best run economics.

And we are talking about an industry which is a fraction of 1 percent of the economy. Its nothing like the importance oil was to Venezuela.

Robert Hanson
Reply to  Dean
December 30, 2021 2:22 pm

And as long as the new President does not change laws to retain political power”

What part of “rewriting the Constitution” don’t you understand. First paragraph: One person, one vote, ONE TIME. (see Cuba, PLO, etc)

Steve Oregon
December 29, 2021 10:47 am

This new President seems like just another Castro. All fired up over equality till he starts feeling that leftist lust that comes with power gain.
Then it’s just more pretending to be new socialism/communism.

Kevin kilty
December 29, 2021 11:43 am

35 year old former student activist? That sounds like a career he should have transitioned out of about 14 years ago. What makes such inconsequential people attractive to large blocks of voters?

Robert Hanson
Reply to  Kevin kilty
December 30, 2021 2:28 pm

They are promised they will get rich with OPM. A pipedream, of course, as what always happens, and I do mean ALWAYS happens, is the economy tanks as money that should have been reinvested in productive ways is instead squandered for “equity” (sic). After the Elites take their cut of course.

December 29, 2021 1:01 pm

Speaking of lithium, how far would a Tesla go if you charged it with an efficient gas powered generator using just 1 gal of gas?

Reply to  Kramer
January 2, 2022 10:56 am

Kramer, good question! I have always wonder why the Muskmobiles
do not have alternators.

Thomas Gasloli
December 29, 2021 1:23 pm

Oh for crying out loud, like the so-called “rare earth metals”, lithium is freaking everywhere. If Chile tries to jack up the price the buyers will go elsewhere.


Reply to  Thomas Gasloli
December 30, 2021 12:08 am

They are not trying to jack up the price. They are looking to increase the governments share of the revenue.

Given that the brine production method used in Chilean deposits has much higher margins (inclusive of current royalties) than the hardrock producers in other parts of the world (with the exception of Greenbushes mine in Australia), it does seem likely that there is room to “squeeze” producers with not significant threat of replacement from the much more common hard rock producers.

This has already been put into practise, royalties more than doubled between 2017 and 2019 in Chile from USD740/t LCE to USD1835/t LCE.

Reply to  Dean
January 2, 2022 11:01 am

Dean, they must be getting advice from California Cannabis Commission.

Gary Pearse
December 29, 2021 2:28 pm

“Piles of Lithium rich salt, Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Luca Galuzzi (Lucag), edit by Trialsanderrors”

Eric, Trialsanderrors” indeed! The photo is of salt, mainly table salt, with a fair amount of undesirable magnesium chloride and potash salt as well. Virtually all the lithium chloride remains in solution.

The production process: pump the brine into large, shallow, rectangular evaporation ponds covering several thousand acres. Precipitate NaCl. Drain off the liquid into another pond and let KCl (potash product) precipitate. Finally drain this remaining liquid bearing LiCl into a third pond and allow evap until liquid contains ~6% Li- salt. Pump this liquid into the Li extraction plant.

The sodium chloride salt is left as waste.

Roger Bournival
December 29, 2021 2:40 pm

Chile has lots of lithium, which is essential to the world’s transition to green energy.

Left unstated is why this transition is necessary. To save poley bears or minnow fish?

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Roger Bournival
December 30, 2021 6:14 am

There is no evidence this transition is necessary.

Robert Hanson
Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 30, 2021 2:32 pm

There will be no real “transition”, there will just be oddles of tax dollars wasted on unworkable computer models of an imagined transition. I’m old enough to remember Solyndra.

December 29, 2021 2:43 pm

Grabriel Boric is of Croat descent from Punta Arenas. The typical person from Punta Arenas consider the people and the leaders from the Caribbean to be non serious. They are typically classist and xenophobic. They typically look up to Sweden as their role model.
In the 19th century Chile made fortunes supplying nitrates to the World, with the invention of synthetic nitrates and smokeless gunpowder the fortunes vanished. Copper and agriculture became the substitutes. Lithium may go the way of nitrates.
Chile and Argentina are controlled by immigrants from Europe and Eastern Europe, pretending to be South Americans. The Lefties that think that it will be like the times of Salvador Allende will probably be in for a big surprise. I would expect his Presidency to be more like the countries of northern and eastern Europe backed up by the fast acting and fierce police that they have.

December 29, 2021 11:24 pm

Mining engineer who has worked in central America here.

Nationalisation is not going to work, the pressure to supply adequate capital is where governments fall over nearly every time. Letting companies operate the mines and using royalties to secure a share of the revenue is a much more sensible way for governments to exploit natural resources.

But it does highlight one of the main problems with mining. Localised, and often quite severe, negative impacts from mining loaded up on the areas surrounding the mines, and benefits accruing mostly to capital cities or other countries. Takes some serious national government restraint to not squander the generated revenue, Norway is one of the better performers in that regard.

Mining wages can seriously distort local economies, resources such as water can be wrecked by the cowboys invariably attracted to new boom minerals. It happened in NSW Australia in the 90’s with the seam gas cowboys and generated enough public fury to get the industry almost killed.

December 30, 2021 2:00 am

Voters elected Gabriel Boric, a 35-year-old former student activist

Every politician that there has ever been is a former student activist

December 31, 2021 11:29 pm

Sodium is 3x heavier than Lithium. There are 10 Kg of Lithium in an EV battery, given the overall dramatic weight of an EV, adding 20 Kg more by switching to sodium means absolutely nothing. Replace 1-2 more steel body panels with Aluminium or carbon fiber, and you are back to where you started. Sodium is not a weight issue. The issue is that there are no Sodium batteries.

James Bull
January 1, 2022 7:14 am

I’m sure Gabriel Boric (his name reminds me of Borat) has a list of well educated and experienced ‘friends/cronies’ ready, willing and able to run the mines for the good of the people. Their ultra true hearts would never allow anything to happen to all that nasty money and power but it helps others.
Do you get a hint of sarcasm in my comments?

James Bull

Alec Rawls
January 1, 2022 8:59 am

EVs can’t happen at scale anyway, as that would require a massively enhanced electrical grid, while grids all over the West are being debilitated by the same eco-ideology that is pushing for EVs.

Of course it is no accident that they are herding our civilization into a bottleneck. To the eco-ideologues it is the human race that is the problem. They are absolutely looking for ways to herd the bulk of humanity into giant sacks that they can tie up with some rocks and drop into the ocean.

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