Lithium Mines Are Leaving Locals in the Dust
There’s a reason it’s called “white gold.” The silvery-white metal is vital for lithium-ion batteries in the tech world’s latest smartphones, electric cars and laptops. But it’s heavily mined from salt flats on the Argentina-Chile border, the ancestral home of the Atacamas people. Legal loopholes between governments and indigenous communities mean residents see little of the mines’ billions of dollars in profits. With lithium use expected to triple by 2025, the Atacamas are questioning agreements they’ve made — and the effects on their environment and way of life.