Electric cars require lithium batteries. To mine the lithium used in electric car batteries, very large machines are used. Some common ones are 500 Ton excavators, 300 Ton dump trucks and 100 Ton bulldozers. These machines use thousand’s of liters of diesel each day and they run 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!
Lithium mining starts by drilling a hole and pumping brine (which is water with salt) to the surface. Then they leave it to evaporate for months, and create another mix of chemicals to be filtered in. It takes about 12 to 18 months for that mix to be filtered enough in order to be able to get the lithium. This process needs a lot of water and this can put pressure in local communities living in nearby areas. For example, in Chile, mining has caused some areas to lose 65% of the region’s water. This has met impacts of local farmers, who need water for their income.
Lack of water in the region is not just the problem with mining lithium. Toxic chemicals can leak from the evaporation pools to the water supply.
Many electric car batteries also require cobalt. Mining cobalt and other metals can pollute water, air and soil, leading to decreased crop fields, food and water, and breathing health issues. Miners reported that working conditions were unsafe, unfair and stressful. It has also affected many animal’s habitats.
Now next time you’re thinking about getting a new car, think about the things behind the actual car. Maybe we should all just be riding bicycles or walking at this point.
Thank you for reading my opinion about Why electric cars aren’t as beneficial for the environment.