Lithium

Green, green, it’s green they say …

Wired poses a thoroughly modern riddle: what links the battery in your smartphone with a dead yak floating down a Tibetan river? Quote.

Brine is pumped out of a nearby lake into a series of evaporation ponds and left for 12 to 18 months. Various salts crystallise at different times as the solution becomes more concentrated.

The answer is lithium – the reactive alkali metal that powers our phones, tablets, laptops and electric cars.

In May 2016, hundreds of protestors threw dead fish onto the streets of Tagong, a town on the eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau. They had plucked them from the waters of the Liqi river, where a toxic chemical leak from the Ganzizhou Rongda Lithium mine had wreaked havoc with the local ecosystem.

There are pictures of masses of dead fish on the surface of the stream. Some eyewitnesses reported seeing cow and yak carcasses floating downstream, dead from drinking contaminated water. It was the third such incident in the space of seven years in an area which has seen a sharp rise in mining activity, including operations run by BYD, the world’ biggest supplier of lithium-ion batteries for smartphones and electric cars. After the second incident, in 2013, officials closed the mine, but when it reopened in April 2016, the fish started dying again. End of quote.

Well, that sounds all very green, eco-friendly and sustainable, doesn’t it James? Quote. Read more »