A group backed by a German automaker Daimler AG with Volkswagen AG has begun to study the environmental impact of lithium mining in Chile, and Chile is the second largest supplier of key components for rechargeable batteries. battery.
GIZ, the German development agency responsible for the project, is studying how the extraction of lithium-containing brine from the bottom of the Atacama Salt Flats affects the local water supply and communities. A spokeswoman said that the project will last about two and a half years.
This is the latest effort in the global battery supply chain to address the sustainability issues of industries that are increasingly concerned by investors and the public, and these industries will provide the basis for a clean energy transition.
Albemarle Corp. and Soc. Quimica & Minera de Chile SA is increasing the production of Atacama, a region with the world’s largest reserves to cope with the projected doubling of global demand. This reveals the fragility of desert ecosystems, which were once seen as resilient to the method of pumping salt water into large evaporation ponds.
The salt flats are located in one of the driest places on earth, where copper mines, communities and tourism are also competing for water resources.
A GIZ spokesperson said: “There is a lack of consensus on the impact and risks of lithium mining and other economic activities in the region.”
The initial phase of the Responsible Lithium Partnership Program is funded by the following agencies Daimler, Volkswagen, BASF SE and Fairphone BV. It will seek input from copper and lithium producers, indigenous communities and authorities. SQM welcomed the initiative, stating that it is in line with its sustainable development vision. Both SQM and Albemarle are working to reduce the use of salt water and water.
Alonso Barros, a lawyer working with communities around Chile’s lithium business, said that this partnership may lack strength and appears to be aimed at improving the German automotive industry’s perception of the supply chain, which is facing its own environment, Social and governance issues.
The study was conducted on the occasion of a rigorous review of Chilean mining companies, and Chile is drafting a new constitution that may lead to stricter environmental standards.