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


By Paul Homewood

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

Electric vehicles are promoted as the solution for combating “climate change.” Governments are currently incentivizing the production of electric vehicles, while punishing the fossil fuel industry. However, lithium mining for electric vehicles is incredibly destructive to the environment, and is about as far from “green” as one could imagine. Not to mention, most of the lithium-ion batteries produced today come from China and require water-intensive mining operations that ravage natural environments throughout Australia, Argentina and Chile. The process depletes ground water, and leaves behind toxic wastewater that contaminates fields and harms wildlife. The mining process is not carbon dioxide free, either. The mining process releases 15,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions for every ton of lithium that is extracted.

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

When lithium is extracted from salt mines, the miners must drill into the salt flats and pump out a salty, mineral-rich brine. The brine is placed in large pools, so the water can evaporate out. When the brine evaporates, it leaves behind a sludge of potassium, manganese, borax and lithium salts that must be filtered out further. The process pollutes nearby aquifers and lowers the water table, interfering with water sources in the local environment.

The lithium extraction process takes several months, displaces valuable water resources, and leaves behind a toxic trail of wastewater in the local environment. It takes approximately 500,000 gallons of water to produce one ton of lithium. When mining companies head into countries like Chile, they use up a majority of the region’s water, unjustly affecting small communities.

According to the Institute of Energy Research, Chile’s Salar de Atacama is one of the driest places on Earth, yet the mining companies are allowed to use up 65% of the region’s water. After the brine is removed from the salt flats, the water table automatically falls, disrupting the natural flow of water that is needed for wells and agriculture. These large-scale disruptions can always be blamed on “climate change” as the lithium mining industry plunges ahead, with no regard for the environmental damage wrought in its wake.

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

The toxic chemicals that are used to extract the brine are ultimately discarded into the local environment, where they contaminate streams, crops, wildlife and local ecosystems. The toxic chemicals, which include hydrochloric acid, leak from the evaporation pools and pollute the nearby water supply. Additionally, the large open pit mines displace arsenic into the nearby streams and rivers, where it will eventually deposit into agricultural land and be taken up by the crops. This downstream pollution is dangerous to wildlife, too. For example, in May of 2016, the Liqi River was polluted by the Gangizhou Rongda Lithium mine. The river turned up with dead fish, yak and cows.

The lithium mining operation in Salar de Atacama displaces more than 1,700 liters of lithium-rich brine every second of operation. This causes the lakes to shrink, killing off local flamingo populations that depend on the basin to eat and breed. In Argentina, lithium mining caused noticeable contamination of nearby streams that were used to feed livestock and irrigate crops. The residents of Salar de Hombre Muerto noticed that the groundwater flow had changed, causing water resources to disappear. They also noticed that that freshwater was contaminated with salty brine, destabilizing the local ecosystems and negatively affecting bird migration and llama populations — which the indigenous communities depend upon for economic survival.

“Like any mining process, it is invasive, it scars the landscape, it destroys the water table and it pollutes the earth and the local wells,” said Guillermo Gonzales, who spoke about the issues with lithium from the University of Chile back in 2009. “This isn’t a green solution – it’s not a solution at all.”

It is one of the great mysteries why the green movement in general is not actively campaigning against this.

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October 13, 2022 2:06 pm

I’ll bet the steam plumes such as those shown here are not photographed with filters as rising dark masses like coal power plant steam or tailpipe emissions for propaganda positioning.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
October 13, 2022 3:30 pm

It’s not a photograph.

navy bob
Reply to  Charles Rotter
October 13, 2022 4:27 pm

It’s not a photo of a lithium production operation? Then why is it used to illustrate an article about the environmental ravages of lithium production?

Reply to  navy bob
October 13, 2022 4:37 pm

It’s an AI generated image of Lithium mining and environmental devastation.

Reply to  Charles Rotter
October 13, 2022 4:38 pm

I guess I accidentally lept over the uncanny valley.

Reply to  Charles Rotter
October 13, 2022 5:33 pm

Fixed. Everybody happy now?

Reply to  Charles Rotter
October 14, 2022 2:31 am

Not entirely… if you choose a picture to illustrate your piece that may reasonably be considered to be ‘made up’, no matter how splendid your AI is, it reduces the impact of veracity of the rest of it.

it’s not like it’s the surface of planet Z in the Orion belt and there’s not plenty of actual photographs you might have used… even then, it would be credited as an artist’s impression.

Still, it’s your article… carry on!

Kevin Mitchell
Reply to  pjar
October 14, 2022 10:28 am

You thought that was an actual photograph?

Reply to  pjar
October 14, 2022 11:45 am

Yes, because it’s soooo easy in a limited amount of time to find COPYRIGHT CLEARED or public domain photo that illustrates one’s exact point. This is not a social media post. There are thousands out there looking to sue us.

Reply to  Charles Rotter
October 15, 2022 4:42 pm

I’m curious how you made that.

Manny Motorola
Reply to  Charles Rotter
October 14, 2022 9:35 am

It’s that easy huh? A PHOTOGRAPH contradicts your climate zealotry, and you just say, “It’s not a photograph”. Whatever lets you sleep at night I guess.

Reply to  Manny Motorola
October 14, 2022 9:47 am

I think you’re confused. I created the image, so I believe I have to authority to state it is not a photograph.

Reply to  Charles Rotter
October 14, 2022 2:35 pm

Your looking at the “artistic rendition” above the lede, not the photo in the Natural News article below.

Reply to  xsnake
October 14, 2022 2:46 pm

You’re late to the party and have no idea of the subject of this conversation.

Reply to  PCman999
October 15, 2022 4:48 pm

Here’s what it really looks like, actually worse than the AI pic I think.

Tom Halla
October 13, 2022 2:09 pm

It is like Bird groups not protesting wind turbines.

Steve Case
Reply to  Tom Halla
October 13, 2022 2:25 pm

Time for this one again:

Bird Chopper.png
Gunga Din
Reply to  Steve Case
October 14, 2022 8:30 am

A Flying Tiger!

Reply to  Steve Case
October 14, 2022 5:26 pm

I am going to have to object … I don’t believe that you used a real photograph to depict your opinion 🙂

Reply to  Tom Halla
October 13, 2022 3:08 pm

Otherwise known as bird and bat Cuisinarts.

October 13, 2022 2:13 pm

Net zero is a very stupid idea and anyone who believes it should stop exhaling CO2, right now!

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
October 13, 2022 2:26 pm

As to why no protests from the Green movement, that’s easy.

Because it’s not Green.

It’s all about making us accept their form of government.

They the local leaders all think that they will be the new Bose’s.

So go back to 1917 in Russia.

By the 1930 tees most of the original leaders were dead or in the Gulag.

That is the future of our ” Save the Planet” types.

Michael VK5ELL

Reply to  Michael
October 13, 2022 8:15 pm

The future of most of the ‘woke’ crowd. Most of them are mere delusional tools but their leaders are in for a BIG surprise if they succeed in overthrowing the current system.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Michael
October 14, 2022 8:48 am

In “Animal Farm, wasn’t the project used to keep the serfs in line building a windmill?

Janice Moore
Reply to  Gunga Din
October 14, 2022 9:48 am

😥 Yes.
comment image

October 13, 2022 2:21 pm

It boggles the mind! That’s the front end of the EV/lithium battery life cycle. I wonder what the tail (disposal) end looks like. Never mind the middle of the life cycle.

Reply to  Bill Pekny
October 14, 2022 5:31 pm

The tail end:

comment image&f=1&nofb=1&ipt=a4bbf06150613fa3be9bf268970d8b43e82855107276633e0e076c6db4b3cced&ipo=images

Janice Moore
October 13, 2022 2:26 pm

… why the green movement in general is not actively campaigning against this.

They all joined the CO2 Cult.

To save the planet *cough* *COUGH*.

You will find in their holy book at II Mindful 1:22 the following:

Do all you can to promote solar, wind, electric vehicles, and the like, for The Universe will remember this when you pass into the Great Mind and your reward will be great.

(or something like that…… I’m only quoting from memory and that from only a very brief glimpse over the shoulder of the furrow-browed, slightly uptight, bookstore patron I passed on my way to check out — the accompanying photo of then-Prince Charles (they put lots of slick photos in their holy book) made me wonder if it was the book about his mother that I was interested in buying — ha! far from it!)

Reply to  Janice Moore
October 13, 2022 6:00 pm

Invoking royalty is never a good idea. Royalty gets constant attention and all of their whims instantly fulfilled.
Reality is not a royalty strength.

It does remind me of long ago youth.
Back then, Dungeons & Dragons were popular games. Before commercial D&D dungeons were available, people dreamed up their own dungeons, occupants and dangers.

One of the best that I played was my brother’s dungeon.
A lot of people, somehow believe that cursing shows them as something more than they are; cool, street smart, macho, virile, anything but the intolerant weaklings they really are. A practice that is worse today,

My brother invested his dungeon with gods and demigods based upon our family members.
Curse, and he’d roll his dice to see if you would get a response. If yes, he’d roll to see which family member god/demigod would respond.
Getting a friendly cooperative sane family member as the answering god was almost impossible.
Getting an arrogant willful capricious irritating egocentric family member in response to general curses was almost guaranteed.

Cursing during play evaporated quickly with our family and friends.

Invoking royalty is just a type of cursing, certain to unpredictably disrupt whatever you are trying to accomplish. Calling Queen Elizabeth II would be wonderful, though she knew better than to respond. It is much more likely that ‘not bonny’ King Charles would be the one to respond.

Janice Moore
Reply to  ATheoK
October 13, 2022 8:24 pm


It was just a joke….

I used Charles in my little story because he could plausibly be one of the “saints” a CO2 Cult holy book would include an illumination of….. and I had to have a plausible reason for my attention being drawn to the cult member’s holy book ……. I certainly wouldn’t be reading their stupid book just to read it.

Mr David Guy-Johnson
Reply to  ATheoK
October 13, 2022 10:36 pm

Theo, Royalty hasn’t had its whims granted since about 1650 in the UK. Do try and keep up

Harrow Sceptic
Reply to  Mr David Guy-Johnson
October 15, 2022 5:08 am

Ermm, what about royalty scrutinising proposed laws to see if they impacted on their own revenues. That little gem slipped out a few years ago

Brett Baker
October 13, 2022 2:27 pm

Oh, once fossil fuels, and then biofuels are shut down, the Greens will be all concerned about rare earth metal mining.

Reply to  Brett Baker
October 13, 2022 8:19 pm

And once the WEF tyrant wannabes succeed in their efforts, all green concerns will be forgotten.

Reply to  rho
October 14, 2022 2:05 am

Hydrocarbons will not be banned, just reserved for the rulers and their armies.

Reply to  Arthur
October 14, 2022 2:12 am

I thought the armies were going all electric.

Reply to  Oldseadog
October 14, 2022 6:06 pm

Only the losing armies.

Barnes Moore
Reply to  Brett Baker
October 14, 2022 5:43 am

Won’t be much of a concern given that if fossil fuels are shut down, there won’t be any machinery available to do the mining.

Rud Istvan
October 13, 2022 2:28 pm

I did some fact checking when this first posted at Paul’s. The article is overwrought, and a lot of it’s ‘facts’ aren’t. Plus, it ignores the alternative significant lithium source, hard rock spodumene. Plus the minor one (shown in the illustration), lithium enriched clays.

The real lithium issues are:

  1. There isn’t enough known reserve (brine plus spodumene plus clay) for an EV world, and so far not a lot of luck recycling it despite Tesla research efforts.
  2. Battery grade (high purity) lithium carbonate/hydroxide production is almost completely controlled by China. Just like rare earths, China ignores the environmental consequences so has an inherent cost advantage.
  3. Demand has already outstripped supply, so prices have risen several fold making EVs even less economically attractive. Never mind inherent range anxiety. And fast ‘supercharging’ kills battery life; doing it often voids the Tesla battery warranty (always read the fine print).
Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 13, 2022 3:26 pm

Thanks for boiling it down.

The alarmists have set themselves an impossible task.

I see the ENSO meter has made a little move.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 13, 2022 3:43 pm

Three replies.

  1. We do ourselves no favors when posting stuff that favors us but isn’t basically true even if directionally correct.
  2. Yes, the alarmists have dug a deep hole. And they keep digging.
  3. Enso hasn’t moved enough To save Europe this winter.
Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 13, 2022 5:47 pm

I was hoping maybe that would mean Oklahoma can get some rain.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 13, 2022 8:59 pm

We do ourselves no favors when posting stuff that favors us but isn’t basically true even if directionally correct.

Hiding facts and data is what the alarmists do.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 13, 2022 10:33 pm

We do ourselves no favors when posting stuff that favors us but isn’t basically true even if directionally correct.

Well said, Rud, it’s important we stick to facts and data

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 14, 2022 8:22 am

Thank God there is blowback on this ugly hit on the mining industry. Always pilloried, at least in Anglo countries and around the world courtesy of Anglo-invented and financed NGOs. I’m one of the brave people of the extractive sector who suffer, bad weather, danger, thanklessness providing essential minerals without which we would perish in misery. Or learn how to be a Hotentot.

I once faced protesters coming out of a mining show in Vancouver, BC who had arrived on expensive bicycles FFS.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Gary Pearse
October 14, 2022 8:36 am

We named the steps in human progress the Stone Age, Neolithic Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age FFS. It’s what kept homo sapiens viable. Anyway, I wrote my reply last night below.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 13, 2022 3:58 pm

Well said Rud, pretty sure the tianqi lithium mine/refinery here in WA would not be able to operate outside mining environmental laws/regs. Alcoa jumps thru hoops just mining/refining bauxite.

Beta Blocker
Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 13, 2022 5:30 pm

Concerning point 3 …. would you recommend consulting a civil litigation lawyer before purchasing an EV?

Ron Long
Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 13, 2022 6:09 pm

Rud, you are correct to call a foul on this one, as it is “overwrought”. As a geologist who has worked on and around the Salar de Hombre Muerto, in northern Argentina, I can assure everyone that no nearby streams were polluted, because the Salar is an enclosed salt flat, water ends up there and there is no exit. Locals around the Salar de Hombre Muerto? No more than a few, and they stay the hell off the Salar as it is a stinky mess.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 13, 2022 8:58 pm

I don’t know the reality of this as many things are very over hyped but it could make a rather large shift in use of electric vehicles.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  AndyHce
October 14, 2022 12:01 am

I saw that somewhere else, it’s garbage.

They’re claiming a 3 minute recharge time because they use an extra (Nickel) electrode that ‘manages the temperature’ of the cell while its charging.
=Bafflegab even before we ask where all the Nickel is coming from
They then go on to claim ‘longer vehicle range’ and thus able to use small (50kWh) batteries AND longer life.
(where I saw the story, Cleantechnica has completely different figures)

Cleantech quote:”Here we combine a material agnostic approach based on asymmetric temperature modulation with a thermally stable dual salt electrolyte to achieve charging of a 265 Wh kg battery to 75% (or 70%) state of charge in 12 (or 11) minutes for more than 900 (or 2,000) cycles.

I think I detect another Retro-Encabulator there.

Then, let’s all calculate the power flow of charging a 50kWh battery in 3 minutes – I get a number of circa 1 MegaWatt.
Are you gonna connect a circuit carrying that many Amps and Volts – in the wind, rain and dark?
Even if you were a Hercules Superman and could manhandle the cable itself?

Are these people dumb, stupid, crazy or insane?
Or all those things

Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 13, 2022 10:10 pm

Rud: And fast ‘supercharging’ kills battery life; doing it often voids the Tesla battery warranty (always read the fine print).”

Hmmm… so Tesla sells you the car, then sells you a ‘supercharger’ or puts them in high demand areas and charges a premium for the electricity. But you shouldn’t use the rapid chargers. If you do, Tesla is off the hook for battery replacement.

No wonder Musk is so stinkin’ rich.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  H.R.
October 14, 2022 4:53 am

I read somewhere (I wish I could find it) that Tesla monitors your charges so they slow them down after the first few fast charges so you don’t destroy your battery.

Bob Hunter
Reply to  H.R.
October 14, 2022 8:12 pm

Therefore, it wouldn’t make sense for emergency vehicles or transit buses to have lithium batteries

Mr David Guy-Johnson
Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 13, 2022 10:39 pm

Very well said Rud. Facts should be what defines we rational sceptics. Without them we’re just another deluded group or worse a cult.

Mark D
Reply to  Rud Istvan
October 14, 2022 6:12 am

I’ve seen a huge open pit mine for other materials. I’ve read about the damage caused therein.

Query: Emotion aside need lithium mining be any more damaging than any other material?

Gregory Woods
October 13, 2022 2:30 pm

It is one of the great mysteries why the green movement in general is not actively campaigning against this.

it is no ‘mystery’…

Jeff L
October 13, 2022 2:31 pm

“It is one of the great mysteries why the green movement in general is not actively campaigning against this.”

Actually not – Greens have never been about the environment; Only about left wing politics, which the green movement is a convenient “Trojan Horse” for.

Reply to  Jeff L
October 14, 2022 7:29 am

Single/central/monopolistic solutions with and without borders.

October 13, 2022 2:33 pm

I’m sure there are methods of extracting the lithium that are not this polluting. We have multiple facilities in Michigan which extract products from deep brine and salt formations without scarring the landscape or polluting the lakes.

Janice Moore
Reply to  tgasloli
October 13, 2022 2:49 pm

They probably make the raw materials cost too high for a break-even number of units sold — even with OPM heavily subsidizing the costs of production.

It doesnot add up
October 13, 2022 2:36 pm

I wonder what quandaries they are in over the potential to use geothermal fracked wells to produce lithium in Cornwall. It all seems to have gone rather quiet.

Ed Hanley
October 13, 2022 2:48 pm

Another good reminder of the upstream and downstream consequences of anything we do. As the population of Earth approaches 8 Billion we need to reflect that the technology supporting that many human lives is dependent on fossil fuels. Removing fossil fuels from the economy by 2035 or whenever the Greens set their goal will result in the death of billions, who will go disregarded by them as they congratulate themselves.(Unless the Greens are actually the philosophical heirs of the Club of Rome, but we don’t need to go down that conspiratorial rabbit hole.) Battery power is nice as it reduces local pollution. But it pollutes mightily in all the upstream processes that bring those batteries into existence. It is worth it from time to time to revisit Leonard E. Read’s excellent essay, “I, Pencil.”

Reply to  Ed Hanley
October 14, 2022 11:02 am

There are plenty of energy technologies we could be using to reduce fossil fuel use (not eliminate, but reduce) that do not require exotic/rare materials. But we can’t use them because they are politically unattractive. However, technologically, we have made them safer, cheaper to build (assuming the ‘anti’ forces don’t create costly delays that serve no purpose other than to make it cost more), and we know they work.

What are they?

Nuclear, of course.

October 13, 2022 2:52 pm

Lithium is a brine deposit and is mined from the same brine ore as borax. Lithium’s ratio to boron in the deposits worldwide is roughly 1:25. It takes >25,000 lbs. of brine to extract 25 pounds of lithium. US Borax (Rio Tinto) in Boron California is mining lithium from the ninety years’ worth of tailings at their mine.

I wouldn’t over-buy the environmental disaster schtick in brine mines, but it obviously takes a lot of water to create the brines needed to extract the quantities needed to fulfill the fever swamp fantasies of the EV fanatics. I have a simple solution; mine seawater. At 28.9 mol per kg it will take a lot of seawater, but you can theoretically get it anywhere there is seawater. It just costs money. Money is no object when it comes to EVs and the environment so require the lithium to be directly extracted from seawater.

October 13, 2022 2:55 pm

Nothing that the Greens concern.

October 13, 2022 2:58 pm

Maybe they aren’t backing down because that is all they have! Or all that matters is they sell the EVs. What ever the reason they are not working in the interests of society.

Reply to  Olen
October 13, 2022 4:05 pm

First, they decide what things to promote. Once they have decided on Lithium, they invest in Lithium operations and campaign ferociously in favour of Lithium and against all competition (eg. fossil fuels). At some point, they take their profit and decide on new things to promote, and at this point they will polish their environmental halos by campaigning ferociously against Lithium.

No, no, the greens would never do something like that, would they?

October 13, 2022 3:02 pm

Do not forget the huge amount of grid scale batteries needed to make renewables reliabie as reliable fossil fuel generation is phased out. The expensive competition between grid and EVs will be enormous. A lot of the EV juice will have to go through two sets of batteries.

How funny that the toxic chemical hating greens have now opted for a world run via chemical energy! Clearly environmentalism has lost its way.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  David Wojick
October 14, 2022 8:48 am

David, use lead acid for storage. No don’t need to worry about weight for stationary installations. There is already 25 million tons a year available, especially if the Climate Clowns ban ICE transportation.

Bob Meyer
Reply to  David Wojick
October 14, 2022 9:41 am

Environmentalists haven’t lost their way, the rest of us merely found out which way they were going.

Joe Wagner
October 13, 2022 3:03 pm

WTB reports with Actual Data!
I can see where this process could be devastating to the environment, but has anyone actually measured anything- or is this another case of “Cows drink lots of water so Cows Bad”?

October 13, 2022 3:04 pm

Once the Greens blob is finished with the planet, all that will be left is a MadMax waste land, enjoy your clean energy future kids, Bwahaha.

October 13, 2022 3:34 pm

It is one of the great mysteries why the green movement in general is not actively campaigning against this.”

Because it was always about destroying capitalism and liberty. Because the greens (and also most politicians) hate people with a hatred that you cannot imagine, and so they hate anything that makes people happy, such as meat and freedom. It was never about saving the environment, it was always about enriching themselves at the expense of everyone else.

October 13, 2022 3:37 pm

All those problems are in South America or outback Australia. What has it got to do with the greens inhabiting affluent inner city suburbs?

October 13, 2022 3:45 pm

Why do you need to use freshwater- there is lots of sea water.

Len Werner
October 13, 2022 3:56 pm

They can’t make me feel bad with that photo of the glorious machinery in an open pit mine; some of us take great satisfaction in having obtained the expertise to contribute to such enterprises of man. Any one who has honestly studied earth sciences of any kind knows the insignificance of man’s surface-scratching (or drilling) of a 100 km thick crust.

This has nothing to do with ‘climate change’; that climate changes all by itself, and why, is free for anyone to learn. This has to do with societal change, and imposing control by a few and loss of freedom for the many it seems that younger people relish just for the lack of personal incentive it allows. They are hoodwinked and robbed of human spirit–the kind that leads to pride in having acquired the knowledge of how to run a mine–but will have to learn it by themselves.

‘…slowly and one at a time’.

Reply to  Len Werner
October 13, 2022 4:12 pm


I am beginning to see too many posts here blaming some “star chamber”, back room cabal plotting to rule the world.
I honestly feel that most of the greenies and warmists are simply ignorant about how complex systems work. I forgive their ignorance.
No doubt that the gravy train of grants from both government and big foundations has helped the warmist movement for many years. But as long as we realists have the means to publish and vote, all is not lost.

Gums sends…

John Bell
October 13, 2022 4:03 pm

Just watch, everything “green” stands on FF as a base, always was, always will be.

Geoff Sherrington
October 13, 2022 4:05 pm

Harm is done when authors like this embellish their writing with beliefs and present little to no real data.
There is a current trend to badmouth all mining. The silly articles that set out to do this often reflect that the authors know little about mining.
If they were writing about surgery on the human body it would read like “Surgery is immensely damaging to the human body. It creates bad-smelling gases and rivers of blood that find their way, laden with toxins harmful to others, into the wider environment.” And so on.
Modern mining involves a tiny footprint onto the earth surface and a small distance under. Mines are so rare that you can fly for hours without seeing one out of the aircraft window. At the end of their mining lives, typically 30 years or so, rehabilitation is so good that the effort is usually absorbed into the landscape in similar time. Sure, there are some exceptions, but these do not tell the wider story of excellence. It help to be old enough to see these proofs and educated enough to know what you see.
The miners I have known are ordinary family folk with the same wants and needs of society overall and devoid of wickedness that authors invent for them. Overall, they are rather more practical and intelligent as befits the responsibility they earn by doing excellent work to provide society with the goods it demands. Give them thanks, not ignorant vitriol. Geoff S

October 13, 2022 4:34 pm

A) Fake delusional edited photos harm any point you are trying to make.

B) The second photo looks more like a mine operation, no pollution in evidence. A picture taken in any gravel pit in America looks the same.

C) Contradictions destroy any points you are allegedly trying to make:

When lithium is extracted from salt mines, the miners must drill into the salt flats and pump out a salty, mineral-rich brine. The brine is placed in large pools, so the water can evaporate out. When the brine evaporates, it leaves behind a sludge of potassium, manganese, borax and lithium salts that must be filtered out further. The process pollutes nearby aquifers”

a) Law governing mining lay down the rules mines must abide. If any part of this is true, that is government corruption in action, not the case for all mines!

b) It is standard practice to pump out brines for evaporation on a impenetrable ‘pad’. Whether synthetic or clay there is a liquid holding pad there.
Otherwise, the water will leach down into the water table with all of it’s toxic load and deny the lithium company dissolved lithium salts. Bad fiscal practice.

c) Deep salt flats and thick brines do not play well with aquifers by themselves! Mining the lithium removes toxic salts where undisturbed the salt flats will pollute the aquifer.

Modern salt, dissolved solids separation equipment are widely available. Table sugar, sodium bicarbonate and many other household compounds/chemicals are recovered in this manner. This practice recovers a much greater amount of dissolved solids with greater efficiency than plain evaporation.

e) I note that the ScienceDirect article you link to claims repeatedly that using bad lithium practices are the fault of colonialism…
Wrong! Bad mining practices are the result of government corruption and bad regulations. In this case, Chile is at fault!

d) “they use up a majority of the region’s water, unjustly affecting small communities.”

The same thing occurs in Western Civilization!. Shopping malls, golf courses, hotel complexes, factories all seek well permits when they build. To them, it is much too expensive to use urban/suburban treated water.
Local residents immediately notice their wells going dry as the large consumer of potable water drains the water table much lower. Some residents have a well driller deepen their well, others are forced to tie into treated water supplies.

But, there is zero outrage Paul Homewood’s article that businesses drain groundwater globally. Only that Chile allows lithium miners to allegedly use all of the local water. Filtering all of the other doom fantasies in the article leaves the topic wanting.

Though the article makes a complete hash detailing facts with accuracy, so it hard to figure out which is a writer’s moral outrage artistic license versus provable facts.

Reply to  ATheoK
October 13, 2022 6:23 pm

I fixed it for you. Was never meant to mislead.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  ATheoK
October 13, 2022 6:47 pm

Charles the Moderator usually chooses the images at the top of posts.
Charles is a keen and very competent photographer, as shown by some of his choices like the Death Valley photo on 2022October10. We have emailed each other now and then, privately, about his photography. My interest continues from a younger time when I earned a title of Judge by the Australian Photographic Society, including for international competitions.
In a recent email, I asked Charles about the images suddenly appearing above posts, a new type that went with some of the Francis Menton Manhattan Contrarian articles.
(Example: Home2022October7A Comprehensive Roundup of Official Energy Madness)

Their early theme was surrealistic, low key, near-greyscale creations around strange windmills, smoke, chimneys. There are very well done, an art form in themselves. They are created by Charles.
You are asking if they are appropriate for the theme of the written post below them. IMHO, yes, they are brilliant overall because they can evoke ‘confusion of the mind’, which is one of the major afflictions of people who are targets for typical WUWT sceptics.
If you try to make the connection between chosen image and following essay too close, you will find it hard to even use some media like cartoons. The aim is to draw attention, not to mislead. Charles has quickly and correctly denied intent to mislead.
Go for it, Charles, more please! Geoff S

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 13, 2022 6:52 pm

You may not have seen the original Geoff. It probably looked too photorealistic.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Charles Rotter
October 13, 2022 8:36 pm

Saw it, no probs. Geoff S

Reply to  ATheoK
October 13, 2022 9:54 pm

Maybe I misunderstood the article, but to me it highlighted green hypocrisy by using the exact same language and techniques that greens use against the things they don’t like, to describe something that the greens do like. Green hypocrisy is indeed boundless. One example, referenced twice in comments here, is green Bob Brown’s opposition to a wind farm. Bob Brown, Tasmania’s best known and worshipped green by a country mile, has for a long time supported renewable energy and in 2011 was instrumental in creating the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which saw taxpayers hand out more than $10 billion for green power projects. This unspeakable Nimby hypocrite is now opposing a wind farm.

October 13, 2022 5:42 pm

BFD – all mining is invasive and creates at least short environmental impacts that can be managed and minimized. Every single thing any person uses in life requires mining. Including every bit of food you eat, the medical equipment that keeps you alive, the house or building you live in, the vehicle you drive or ride in and the road you drive on, the electronics you use to read this blog and type on your device to send and receive digital data.

It’s ridiculously stupid to single out lithium as a stupid example of rank whataboutism.

Global warming extremism is the appropriate target here at WUWT, not normal essential every day used technology.

Reply to  Duane
October 13, 2022 7:49 pm

The problem is not lithium mining and processing per se, but rather the green handmade tales that force distortions in the market and technological development.

Reply to  Duane
October 13, 2022 9:25 pm

Duane I think think that most of the people that visit this site understand that mining is an intrinsic part of our modern existence.

But industrial scale solar, wind turbines, backup batteries and EV’s are all a criminal waste of raw materials. They are not fit for purpose. And sadly much of this infrastructure comes from countries that have few regulations or sidestep those they do have with corruption. In fact the whole ‘green’ industry is corrupt. The mountains of industrial and toxic waste unnecessary.

The other odd misconception about green energy, at least from its extreme proponents, is that mining will be be reduced. That many mines, particularly coal mines will be shut down due to the magic of wonderful renewables. Unicorns and fairy dust.

Mining isn’t going anywhere obviously. But the scale of the ‘green’ juggernaut brings out the greed in people and they more easily turn a blind eye to bad practices.

October 13, 2022 6:02 pm

Ho Hum. Many eagles are dying as well. Show me one greenie that cares. That’s the thing about socialism and religion, ideology trumps everything.

Reply to  Terry
October 13, 2022 7:14 pm

You’ve already been shown, earlier in this thread. One of the most famous ‘green environmentalists’ in the Australian parliment, was Dr Bob Brown, who is now retired.

The following ABC news item provides the details of his response to a proposed new wind farm project in Tasmania. Below is a quote from the beginning of the article.

“Former leader of the Greens, Bob Brown, has come out swinging against a giant new wind farm planned for Robbins Island, in the north-west corner of Tasmania.
He says it is in the wrong place, will ruin the view and kill endangered birds like the Tasmanian wedge-tail eagle and the white-breasted sea eagle that live on the island, and potentially migratory birds like the swift parrot and the orange-bellied parrot that travel between Tasmania and the mainland.”,view%20and%20kill%20endangered%20birds.

Reply to  Vincent
October 13, 2022 7:52 pm

Yes, it’s a mistake to exercise liberal license to indulge diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment, class-based bigotry), including judging and labeling people…. persons in color blocs. Principles matter.

October 13, 2022 7:38 pm

One thing’s for sure. If lithium extraction is very messy and in short supply in order to change the weather urgently then you don’t want to waste its lightness on stationary grid firming. Best use it wisely and equitably spread across transport eh lefties?
Toyota slams electric-car extremism | Drive
Besides what about all those EV charger resources required and the dire lack of firmed renewables to feed them already?

October 13, 2022 8:13 pm

I’ve read that Montana has rare earth deposits that someone is trying to get permission to mine. Like Montana has a lot of water.

Gary Pearse
October 13, 2022 9:37 pm

Gee, Paul I’m a big fan of yours but this hit piece on the mining of lithium is fraught with the same ignorance that you do battle against re manmade global warming every day. As far as hardrock mining goes Li-pegmatites are the cleanest mining that we do anywhere.

Regarding lithium brines, these come from the Alto-Plano in Chile and, in the last decade, Argentina. It is salt desert, with billions of tons of naturally occurring Na, K, Mg, and Li chloride, some with nitrates and borates. It is sparsely populated, and most of the income for these regions and community income (schools, roads, etc) is sourced from this activity. The salt aquifers are at or very near surface (years with more rain the areas can have ponded brines).

Fresh water resources are carefully located and measured and isolated from the salts (Florida even draws household water from a lense of fresh water ‘floating’ on top of seawater which lies beneath aquifers – rain recharges it ). They are renewable and recharged and and they successfully quench and wash and water 22,000,000 people. The few 10s of thousands here and there in the Alto Plano- no problem.

About 10 years ago I reviewed a very unusual deposit of rubidium (used to make a heavy liquid employed in floating drill cuttings from very deep oil and gas wells, especially in the North Sea) and thallium (to ordinary folk -rat poison) with zinc and arsenic as accessory mineralization. This ‘terrifying’ natural gift from God was formed from a hydrothermal vapor plume from volcanic activity below a thick conglomerate (fossilized sand and gravel deposit). In fact the sand and gravel was cemented together this mineralization. I researched this for processing and its economics and found it possible to treat it environmentally safely at a profit.

Please, Paul, don’t tell any environmental experts you know about the rubidium formate used in North Sea wells! The gov may cancel their fossil fuel plans!

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Gary Pearse
October 13, 2022 10:09 pm

BTW, the lithium in Chile and Argentina actually occurs in natural liquid brines. They pump the water into multi-hectare square ponds. They use 100% solar energy to evaporate the brine. It begins to precipitate (ppt) the NaCl (table salt) and this goes on until the KCl begins to ppt. They then drain the remaining brine into a smaller square pond where the KCl precipitates under the sun. Finally the remaining brine contains only the most soluble chloride, LiCl, this is drained into a final evaporation pond and is evaporated until a concentrate containing 6%Li in the ~saturated chloride. In Chlle this is sent down to Antofagasta as feed for their product plant. The “500,000t of water/ton if Li is the unpotable brine itself emitted to the atmosphere where it can help rain out the fresh water for their aquifers!! God save us from activist arts students who ‘reason’ their ‘information’ from stuff they’ve read and not understood!

October 13, 2022 10:29 pm

It is one of the great mysteries why the green movement in general is not actively campaigning against this.

They will.

Can’t have the proles moving around freely, can we?

Jeremy Poynton
October 13, 2022 11:10 pm

It is one of the great mysteries why the green movement in general is not actively campaigning against this.”

No it’s not – as far back as Orwell, people have noted the ability of the Left to hold completely opposing views at the same time. Here, in good totalitarian style, the Greens are saying “the end justifies the means”.

I.E. To save the planet, we have no choice but to destroy it.

October 14, 2022 12:09 am

I suspect the Green’s (and those behind them) know full well the risks and issues with mining Lithium. When the time comes they will ban that also.

dodgy geezer
October 14, 2022 1:12 am

If the ‘greens’ were interested in ‘environmentalism’ they would not be pushing Lithium Mining. Ergo, they are not interested in environmentalism.

What they (or rather the people behind them) are interested in is CONTROL. Green Energy, Covid, Racist and Sexist theory – none of this is about addressing real issues, but about controling the population.

The best way to control an animal is to break its spirit – this is what is done with domesticated animals. And an easy way to break a spirit is to force someone to believe in impossible things. This was exactly the method used by O’Brian on Winston Smith – he was forced to believe that 2+2 = 5. And thereafter he was no longer a threat to The Party….

Reply to  dodgy geezer
October 14, 2022 1:42 am

2+2 “=” (politically congruent) 5

Also, babies are delivered at the age of profit or convenience (PC). In Stork They Trust

Green “=” green in the green (i.e. naive) sense.

October 14, 2022 2:11 am

And in the end, it should not be forgotten that the lifetime CO2 emissions reduction of an EV over an ICE vehicle is, at best, marginal. Driving an EV does not save the world from a supposed CO2 driven thermageddon.

October 14, 2022 3:57 am

Sodium batteries are the new alternative to lithium !

According to

“Sodium is a thousand times more abundant than lithium and there is practically an infinite supply of it, with the overall cost of extraction and purification far lower. Generally, Na-ion cells are quoted to be between 20% and up to 40% cheaper, but the challenge is bringing the technology to scale.”

Reply to  Hubert
October 14, 2022 7:30 pm

There is also a reference in your link to ‘New Solar Tiles from Germany’. These tiles are BIVP, which stands for Building Integrated Photo Voltaics. In other words, instead of adding solar panels to part of an existing roof, one constructs the entire roof of a new house with solar tiles, or replace an old roof with solar tiles, thus reducing the cost and increasing the durability of the solar cells.

This new technology, combined with a storage room in the building, containing future and safe Sodium-ion batteries, might make the electricity supply for home-owners actually more affordable than a supply of electricity from fossil fuels.

Whilst I think it’s foolish to expect that renewables can completely replace fossil fuels, I think there might be a place for renewables that can slow down what would be an accelerating rate of the use of fossil fuels, that would take place if there were no scare about CO2 emissions. In the long term, this could be beneficial for the entire world economy.

October 14, 2022 8:18 am

It’s not such a mystery if you accept that the “green” movement isn’t really about “climate change” or “saving the planet” – it’s about control.

Dave Andrews
October 14, 2022 8:40 am

The IEA Global EV Outlook 2022 ‘Securing supplies for an electric future’ says

“Lithium is the most critical metal for EVs as it has no commercially available substitute at scale”

They also project that on ‘Stated Policies Scenario’ there will be 200m EVs wordwide by 2030 and on ‘Announced Pledges’ over 250m EVs worldwide by then. (To meet net zero, however, the required number would be over 350m EVs by 2030)

To meet the target of 200m EVs will require 30 new lithium mines, 41 new nickel mines and 11 new cobalt mines- a total of 88 new mines.

To meet the target of over 250m EVs will require 50 new lithium mines, 60 new nickel mines and 17 new cobalt mines- a total of 127 new mines.

There are currently over 1.4 billion ICE vehicles in the world. To replace them all with EVs will require an absolutely massive expansion of mining especially as the EV battery life is only 8 – 10 years.

Note the IEA has also said it sees potential worldwide shortages of lithium and cobalt as early as 2025 and that the price of lithium rose by over 700% between Jan 2021 and March 2022. It is still increasing today.

Robert Wager
October 14, 2022 8:44 am

Exactly correct thesis but, SQUIRREL

Sam Axe
October 14, 2022 9:32 am


climate rare earths 20220309a.jpg
October 14, 2022 9:48 am

What a disturbingly ignorant hit piece.

Please describe how green oil and gas exploration, drilling, production, refining, support , maintenance and transport infrastructure, and final Fossil fuel emissions from individual autos is.

It’s not, not at all.

What you looking at is the lesser of two evils

October 14, 2022 10:49 am

It’s OK, not really a problem. They purchased Carbon Credits to offset the damage to the environment

October 14, 2022 12:29 pm

It’s OK tho these LIBERAL LEFTIST SOCIALIST MARXIST COMMUNIST DEMOCRAT AUTHORITARIANS are just making money on destroying the worlds and countries economies for companies they are making lots of money on and they love the power of controlling every aspect of your free life

October 14, 2022 2:31 pm

It’s the way leftists have always been…symbolism over substance.

October 14, 2022 3:09 pm

Freaking out over mines is about as moronic as freaking out over CO₂. No mine anywhere ever was a disaster beyond its short-term disturbance of sensibilities.

October 15, 2022 2:23 am


October 15, 2022 6:14 am

The issues is not mining. The issue is green mining claims by Green producers.

Michael Jankowski
October 15, 2022 7:45 pm

The only active lithium mine in the US is just outside of Silver Peak, Nevada.

I encourage you to take a Google Street View tour of Silver Peak to see what those “green jobs” provide for workers. Take a look at the sort of life it “sustains.” It looks like hell on earth.

Green energy is great for lobbyists, corporate execs, and pals politicians.

bruce ryan
October 16, 2022 8:04 am

fine, allow nothing to be done

Thomas Fowler
October 17, 2022 2:19 pm

The reason the left doesn’t want to talk about this is their “out of sight, out of mind” mentality when it comes to green technology. Just offload those messy and polluting jobs to some 3rd world country. Never mind that there is little or no net reduction of CO2 as long as we can maintain the convenient fiction of “no tailpipe emission”.

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