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April 15, 2024
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New approach to lithium mining sparks environmental concerns in US

A lithium mining technique promises environmental benefits but raises concerns over water use and safety in Utah.

A test well for a new lithium mining process in Green River, Utah, unexpectedly released water and CO2, causing local concerns over water supply impacts.

The direct lithium extraction (DLE) method, though potentially less damaging than traditional mining, remains unproven on a large scale in the U.S.

Critics question the long-term environmental impact of DLE, especially regarding water consumption in the already arid Southwest.

Key quote:

“We are not opposed to lithium. We are opposed to unsustainable and dangerous appropriations of water under the false assumptions that this new technology is absolutely harmless.”

— Kyle Roerink, executive director for the Great Basin Water Network

Why this matters:

As the global demand for lithium continues to surge with the transition toward greener energy sources, the industry faces the challenge of balancing the need for this critical mineral with the imperative to protect water resources and ensure sustainable practices.

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