Society Watch: Across the globe, indigenous rights are being trampled in lithium goldrush – by Mark Hillsdon (Reuters – January 2, 2024)

January 2 – Lithium has been called the new white gold, a mineral seen as key to global decarbonisation, thanks to its use in lithium-ion batteries and their role powering EVs. But mining the mineral is proving controversial, as indigenous groups question what they stand to gain in the push for a just energy transition.

Standing outside the Palace of Justice in Buenos Aires, Olmos Desiderio feels betrayed. “We have been let down by the government for the last five hundred years, since colonisation,” he says. “Indigenous people are not properly consulted.”

Desiderio, who is a representative of communities from the Jujuy province in northern Argentina, is one of 50 people still living at a makeshift camp on Plaza Lavalle outside the Palace of Justice. It was set up in August, following a march by indigenous people to protest against the way in which they were being dispossessed and their historical land rights ignored, he explains.

It’s a battle that started in 2010, when international companies first began to take an interest in the lithium-rich salt flats that straddle Argentina’s northern border with Chile and Bolivia, the so-called “lithium triangle”.

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