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lithium mining documentary

These photographs (and interview) explore how humble-seeming vehicles are recreating a tradition that goes back thousands of years.

“We decided,” said García Linera, “that we Bolivians are going to occupy the Salar, invent our own lithium extraction method, and then partner with foreign firms that can bring us a global market.”. “Right, right,” Echazú said, nodding vigorously. The town’s demise was expected to seal the fate of Uyuni, a mining distribution center 12 miles away.

The lithium mining seems a bit less contestable, but again, shock value is everything to a media expose. A hard hitting documentary from the German public broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, about the human and environmental cost of mining lithium and cobalt: If you can’t watch the whole of it, I would suggest watching the first 6 minutes, and from 15 minutes to 22 minutes. Krivic documents the situation in Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia where, along with Argentina and Chile, half of the world’s supply of Lithium can be found. As ever, the most destructive effects of this new and insatiable demand for Lithium are unfolding in the communities living in the mineral-rich areas that mining companies are eager to capitalize on. This will NEVER be reported by the BBC. The state-run facility has about 250 employees, who wear red jumpsuits and live in adjacent prefab houses. And so that has generated some tension.”. The 4,000-square-mile salt flat, one of the country’s most magnificent landscapes, will almost certainly be altered—if not irreparably damaged—by mining the resource underneath it. By late afternoon, the pale shimmer of the salt flat yawns across the plain. Truly terrifying. Weddings, yoga tutorials, and drag races would eventually be staged on it. Powered by a lithium-ion battery, it’s the automaker’s first fully electric vehicle. All drivers must stop and fill out forms at the table before entering the facility. Announcing the Winners! Trusting nonetheless that the promise of the Salar de Uyuni’s reserves would surmount any doubts, the Morales administration stated that Bolivia would have a foreign partner to assist in industrial-scale lithium production by 2013. The investment firm also projects that every time electric-vehicle sales replace a percentage of all vehicles sold, the demand for lithium increases by 70,000 metric tons a year. A global lithium fever started back in 2016, and hasn't let up. Climate change documentaries are kind of old news at this point. Spanning several continents, Krivic’s wide-ranging project seeks to map out a comprehensive, bird’s eye view of the whole process that lies behind the somewhat opaque substance at the heart of our daily lives—one that makes visible the intricate line of production behind Lithium mining, as well as its power relations. He hasn’t been here for a long time.”, Aguirre measured his next words carefully. Evaporation pools carved out of the Salar de Uyuni create a colorful mosaic at the Llipi lithium pilot plant. The average westerner may well feel for the conditions of these people, but the average international businessman could care less for anything other than squeezing the most profit for the least cost, and it really doesn’t matter which country he comes from. Grist's comments only work with JavaScript. Not until 2018 did Bolivia find a partner: ACI Systems Alemania, a German firm that reportedly will invest $1.3 billion in exchange for a 49 percent stake in the venture. The grand residence of the German mining baron Moritz Hochschild is now a seldom visited museum featuring vintage photographs of the hardships borne by his laborers—many of them women and children. At the same time, attracting a foreign firm that would willingly cede control to the state would be challenging for any nation, particularly one with nationalizing tendencies. LensCulture Visual Storytelling Awards 2019.

The real problem, according to Gibbs, is the human race itself. The salt bed deposits are concentrated in Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia, known as the “Lithium Triangle.” Since the 1980s Chile has produced lithium from brine, and its Salar de Atacama is now the preeminent source of the chemical in Latin America. García Linera speaks of his country’s natural resource in a simultaneously factual and awestruck way. These tactics are the perfect examples of “vulture capitalism,” and have nothing to do with the concept of capitalism itself, but, sadly, have come to be what people think capitalism is all about. in extraction, but South America is the continent with the greatest amount of this valuable resource. “They’ll need vast quantities, more than any other mine in Bolivia.”, And finally, there’s the still mostly unspoiled surface of the Salar itself. Lithium is often refined into this key commodity. There is also a legitimate critique, made in the film’s last half-hour, that corporate America is currently engaged in a practice known as “greenwashing”: Companies increasingly tout their “sustainability” initiatives while continuing to pollute the environment behind the scenes, and the environmental movement has, in some cases, staked out an easy alliance with big business (perhaps under the assumption that something’s better than nothing). Going it alone was never an option for a developing country like Bolivia. As to the manufacturers, it is a case of a deliberate lack of inquisitiveness. The facility began making lithium carbonate in 2013. Great! Bolivia, in that now classic film, was the somnolent final refuge of two American bank robbers. Delving into the uncertainty felt by his generation, Iranian photographer Farshid Tighehsaz’s gritty monochrome images penetrate the fears and tensions of the collective unconscious. Harsh winds and severe rainfall delayed engineers for years before they succeeded in constructing a 10-mile causeway connecting the plant to the salt flat where lithium is mined.

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