Lithium boom comes to Brazil’s ‘misery valley’ (France 24 – June 15, 2023)

Araçuaí (Brazil) (AFP) – In a cloud of gray dust, a heavy-duty excavator loads a truck with stone blocks containing lithium, the “white gold” of the clean-energy revolution, which some hope will transform this parched, impoverished region of Brazil.

Sun-scorched and drought-prone, the Jequitinhonha valley, in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, is one of the poorest places in the country. But the region, nicknamed “misery valley,” is on the cusp of a boom: it is home to around 85 percent of the lithium reserves in Brazil, the world’s fifth-biggest producer of the metal, an essential ingredient in electric vehicle batteries.

Authorities in the region are eager to tap the potential of the silvery-white metal. Last month they threw a fanfare-filled event at the Nasdaq stock exchange’s headquarters in New York, where they launched an initiative to attract investment to what they are calling “Lithium Valley.”

Not everyone is thrilled at the idea, however. Some residents in the region of around one million people complain about the environmental impact of lithium mining, others that local communities are not being included.

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