K-UTEC AG Salt Technologies plans to develop a significant lithium mine in Bolivia, which could have negative consequences for the local people and the environment. In Bolivia and neighbouring countries Chile and Argentina, it is estimated that more than 70 percent of global lithium production occurs here1.
Using lithium carbonate, powerful batteries can be produced which are required for example in electric cars and smart phones. Therefore Lithium is increasingly playing an important role in regard to the reduction of CO2 emissions2.
The Thuringian company K-UTEC AG Salt Technologies will now participate from 2018 in the degradation of lithium in Bolivia and is planning a €4.5 million processing plant for lithium extraction in the salt desert Salar de Uyuni. The plant is able to produce about 30,000 tons of lithium carbonate per year2.
The Bolivian government hopes for high economic profits for their country, but also has concerns about the impact of mining operations and will therefore retain control of the production3.
Residents and the community in the area have fears that the mine will destroy the landscape of salt flats and thus prevent tourism as a major source of income2.
A case study from the Federal Environmental Agency for People and Nature in 2011 described possible scenarios that could arise from the mining of lithium in Bolivia. There may be significant environmental impacts such as high water consumption, harmful emissions and habitat destruction. This represents a major threat to the livelihood of the residents, as they live mostly off tourism and agriculture. Furthermore, the raw material dependence of the Bolivian economy and the price fluctuations on the international markets could lead to the country’s political system becoming destabilised. This could in turn lead to local conflicts4.
- http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/bolivien-reportage-ueber-den-lithiumboom-am-salar-de-uyuni-a-1090856.html,08.05.2016,aufgerufen am 09.06.2016 [↩]
- http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/bolivien-reportage-ueber-den-lithiumboom-am-salar-de-uyuni-a-1090856.html, 08.05.2016, aufgerufen am 09.06.2016 [↩] [↩] [↩]
- http://www.welt.de/regionales/thueringen/article145288738/Thueringer-Unternehmen-soll-Lithium-in-Bolivien-foerdern.html 17.08.2015,aufgerufen am 09.05.2016 [↩]
- http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/en/publikationen/rohstoffkonflikte-nachhaltig-vermeiden-3, April 2011, aufgerufen am 11.05.2016 [↩]