Lithium! We Need Lots of it
Lithium is a key component in “hybrid” and electric car batteries, and is also extraordinarily rare. It’s already evident that not enough lithium exists to replace the world’s existing internal-combustion fleet (more than 1,000,000,000 automobiles and counting) with electric technology.
In a bit of divine irony (god does play dice) most of the world’s lithium lies under South America – mostly under Bolivia’s famous salt flats, with some in Argentina. Car manufacturers and would-be industrial giants (Japan and China) are already trying to corner the market.
Now Toyota wants in, and has reportedly signed a major deal with Argentina to mine its lithium:
A key supplier of Toyota Motor Corp. has formed a partnership to mine lithium in Argentina, securing greater access to a metal critical to the production of future hybrids and electric cars.The partnership, announced late Tuesday, includes Toyota Tsusho Corp. and Australian miner Orocobre Ltd. They will develop a lithium mine in northwestern Argentina, and the project is expected to cost about $100 million, Orocobre Chairman James Calaway said.
So next time you see someone driving a hybrid car, ask them where they got the battery. My guess is that the emissions from mining all that lithium more than make up for the gas they save themselves from burning. (And don’t forget all our electricity comes from coal anyway. You know that ain’t clean.)