American Resources Policy Network
Promoting the development of American mineral resources.

Lithium, a conflict mineral?

As we mark Lithium Month, a piece in the online journal ChinaDialogue.net highlights the geo-politics of lithium mining, with a full dollop of irony that our green-tech dreams — read, lithium ion batteries — may have their origins in metals that pose considerable environmental challenges as they’re extracted from the earth.

The piece pivots on the fact that China, which ranks behind Chile, Australia and Argentina as the world’s leading lithium-producing nations, is now planning to exploit the salt beds of the high Tibetan Plateau.  For the analyst/author, the dangers posed are largely environmental; others will register the political and social consequences of extracting resources from a region that the U.S. Congress ranks among the world’s captive nations. In either case, it’s a sign that a more diverse supply of lithium — like so many other metals and minerals — is a matter not only of economic importance, but political and even moral importance as well.