With the rising tide of battery electric vehicles making a splash all across the world, the most coveted natural resource needed to power our vehicles is no longer petrol but a mineral called ‘lithium’. While it’s debatable whether lithium is the most important element found in a lithium-ion battery, its extensive mining across certain global hotspots has come under heavy criticism.
The very process of mining lithium is not only energy-intensive and polluting, it may also be linked with destabilising the ecosystem nearby due to extensive saltwater depletion from the edge of the ‘salars’ through which lithium is extracted. Apart from being used in EV batteries, lithium is also used in the production of glass, ceramics while also being used in rocket fuel etc. However, it’s because of the advent of battery EVs that the global production of lithium has gone up by 335% in the last 10 years.
While more research is being conducted on the possible side-effects of large-scale lithium mining, a few countries have emerged as the largest producers of lithium whose collective output annually rakes in 85,000 tonnes of lithium.