The environmental issues surrounding lithium mining and extraction are well known in Chile and the rest of the countries included in the South American lithium triangle. SolarBio Energy’s corporate team held a high level meeting recently to address the continuing effort to remain as sustainable and morally aware as possible in such a reactive industry.
In Chile, lithium is found in pools of briny water. The liquid from these ponds is pumped out and then dried in the sun to collect the sediment that remains. Extraction velocity can reach up to 1,000 litres of brine per second. If you Include the record-breaking droughts and the harsh conditions of the Atacama desert together you can easily see how a lack of water can have a devastating effect on the ground. Lithium has a minor exception though in the fact that the majority of the water used for the lithium-extraction process is salt water and cannot negatively impact agriculture in the area.
What is happening in the Atacama desert directly impacts the native people living on the land. For these individuals, their main source of income relates directly to agriculture. Meanwhile, the demand for lithium will only increase in the coming years as the metal becomes essential to more and more modern-day technologies. This poses an ever-increasing threat to the Atacama and its inhabitants, as there is no way to replenish the water once it is extracted.
We aim to produce high-quality, low-cost lithium products to fuel a global, low-carbon economy. As we build and operate lithium mining and chemical processing facilities, we will adhere to the highest standards of sustainability monitoring, compliance and reporting.
Moving towards the next phases of project development in Chile, we recognize that the sustainability topics outlined in this report have the potential to shift in nature, scope and scale and we commit to continuing our efforts to embed sustainability into the way that we do business