Chile’s national lithium strategy raises questions about the environmental and social costs of EVs – by Tushar Khurana ( – May 3, 2023)

There are few minerals that play as pivotal a role in the global energy transition as lithium. The silvery white, soft, reactive metal is particularly good at storing energy, which is why it is used in all commercial electric vehicle batteries today and is unlikely to be replaced by another material anytime soon. The demand for lithium batteries is expected to grow more than five times by 2030.

Recognizing its strategic importance, economic potential, and its environmental consequences, President Gabriel Boric of Chile, the world’s second largest producer of the metal, announced plans in late April to increase state participation in the country’s lithium industry.

“The main aim of this policy,” said Pedro Glatz, who was a senior advisor to the Chilean Ministry of the Environment until two months ago and was not involved in crafting the policy, “is to provide more wealth, well-being, and welfare to the Chilean people.”

But Indigenous communities and environmental defenders who live near Chile’s lithium resources question whether this wealth-building and the growth of the global electric car industry should come at the expense of their water, homes, and a critical ecosystem.

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