Chile’s lithium miners consume 65% of region’s water – by Micheal McCrae ( – June 24, 2020)

The social license for battery material producers is challenged by water depletion, toxic dust and worker exploitation, according to a report released Wednesday by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Miners in the Democractic Republic of Congo face challenges operating in a country with few worker protections.

“[About] 20% of cobalt supplied from the DRC comes from artisanal mines where child labour and human rights abuses have been reported. Up to 40,000 children work in extremely dangerous conditions in the mines for meagre income,” write the report’s authors.

Cobalt mining can also be highly toxic. Mechanical excavation, digging and breaking of rocks leads to dust and the release of toxic metals, such as uranium, potentially causing respiration issues and birth defects.

Heavy water usage is a concern for lithium miners. “[Nearly] 65% of the water in the country’s Salar de Atamaca region, one of the driest desert areas in the world, to pump out brines from drilled wells.

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