Before Invasion, Ukraine’s Lithium Wealth Was Drawing Global Attention – by Hiroko Tabuchi (New York Times – March 2, 2022)

Deep below the ground in Ukraine, where Russia continues to mount an aggressive attack, lies vast, untapped mineral wealth that could hold the keys to a lucrative, clean-energy future for the Eastern European nation.

Ukrainian researchers have speculated that the country’s eastern region holds close to 500,000 tons of lithium oxide, a source of lithium, which is critical to the production of the batteries that power electric vehicles. That preliminary assessment, if it holds, would make Ukraine’s lithium reserves one of the largest in the world.

But the Russian invasion has come just as Ukraine, under President Volodymyr Zelensky, was trying to position itself as a major player in the clean energy transition — an evolution for a country that long built its economy on coal, iron, titanium and other legacy industries.

Late last year, Ukraine started to auction off exploration permits to develop its lithium reserves, as well as copper, cobalt and nickel. All are natural resources that play critical roles in the clean energy technology essential to the shift away from fossil fuels that scientists say is necessary to ward off the worst consequences of climate change.

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