Lithium Mining in the Atacama Salt Flats, Chile: How the Strive for Environmentally Sustainable Vehicles is Doing More Harm Than Good
I am a civil engineering student in my fourth year at NJIT. I am a very big proponent of sustainability of any kind. I was drawn to this topic because many people think electric vehicles are more sustainable than regular vehicles, but they are not.
Project Site Description:
Although there are a number of companies who mine lithium in the Atacama Desert in Chile, I want to focus on Sociedad Química y Minera (SQM), because they are the largest producers of lithium. The location of their mine is close to various indigenous communities. Lithium mining requires a lot of water, and because of this communities near the mine are in danger of a water shortage. Besides this, mining can harm the soil and possibly contaminate the groundwater. In my paper I want to answer the question how lithium mining is doing more harm than good to the environment. Most people think because electric cars do not require gasoline to work they are automatically better for the environment. It is not widely known what goes into making these cars and the damaging effects it can have, which is what I want to shine a light on in my paper.
Keywords: Energy, Water Pollution, Toxics, Public Health, Consumption