The world’s lithium resources are limited and so the industry is focused on increasing production of lithium metal, which in turn can be used to produce rechargeable batteries. The lithium metal was first discovered in theclusions in a meteorite and since then it has been mined and used as a highly valuable metal. Lithium is used in many of the electronic components and is therefore crucial to the manufacture of several important electronic devices such as an electric car battery. Mining for lithium metal increases the supply of this element and makes its extraction and use in electric car batteries both economically and environmentally viable. In fact, mining for lithium is one of the major contributors to environmental pollution and therefore mining for lithium should be limited as strictly as any other natural resource.
One of the main problems that are associated with lithium metal extraction is the adverse environmental impacts that will result from the mining. As lithium metal will only be extracted from suitable lithium deposits if the surrounding environment is not disrupted to such an extent that the mining could lead to environmental damage and poisoning. This is why environmental impact is one of the key criteria that mining companies are assessed against before deciding whether or not to proceed with a project. As the lithium metal industry is considered to be an international supply, there is also a risk that the lithium metal extracted from mines will get into the local environment and create problems for the local people.
Another major issue is the lithium metal will not be available for the electric car battery market if the lithium mines are exhausted. There have been proposals by various governments around the world, including Canada and South Africa, to develop new lithium deposits in order to meet future demand. Unfortunately, these governments have so far been unable to come up with enough investment capital to exploit this potential. So while new lithium metal deposits are being sought the current supply would remain tight and this has a knock on effect for the electric car battery industry.
There is also the problem of lithium metal de-mineralization. If lithium metal is transported to an area where it could be used for making batteries, there is a danger that there will be no more lithium minerals left within the final battery. So while using lithium metal for making batteries may seem like a good idea, it might actually be a bad idea. If lithium minerals are de-mineralized then they cannot be used again. The final battery would therefore have very low power and efficiency and it would not be suitable for use in electric cars.
So, what does all this mean for lithium metal production? If the lithium mines do closed down, the lithium minerals produced would not be suitable for electric cars. This means that you would either need to find another way to produce them, or wait for another few decades until the stocks of lithium metals de-mineralize. This problem will only compound as we continue to mine for lithium minerals on an industrial scale.
In conclusion, we suggest that anyone thinking of mining lithium metal should think again and ask themselves if they really need to be mining for lithium. While the lithium minerals can definitely be used in batteries and other technology, there is a significant risk involved in doing so. By simply using the existing lithium metal that we have mining for doesn’t increase our risk of de-mineralizing our groundwater and adding this extra risk to the already high level of concern about global climate change and the risk to the earth’s ecosystems. By looking at the facts we can better determine if we need to be mining for lithium or not.