There is no blasting involved in lithium mining, however. Fracking is a destructive process, and it has been the topic of much controversy in recent years. Of course, alternatives to Li-ion batteries do exist with huge potential, but none are economical enough to produce yet to be anywhere near ready for mass production. This is facilitated by a high-pressure mixture of water, sand, and chemicals that is injected as the hydraulic drill presses down. Yet li-ion batteries, pound for pound, are some of the most energetic rechargeable batteries available. April 27, 2017. On top of that, not all the chemicals found in fracking fluid are known, and the federal government has yet to require that companies disclose what they are. This can endanger the communities where the lithium is being mined because it can cause droughts or famine if operations are not kept in check. As Mark Sumner points out on Daily Kos, a pair of photos released by the community group Saskatchewan Proud shows a badly scarred and stripped mine site on the top along with the text “This is a mine where lithium is extracted for electric car batteries.” On the bottom is a photo of a neat and orderly fracking drill site surrounded by vibrant-looking green forest and lakes with the text “This is an oil sands site in Alberta…Tell me more about how your electric car is better for the environment.”. Geothermal energy production was another topic as Richard Perry, administrator of the Nevada’s Division of Minerals delivered a talk on mineral, geothermal and oil production in the state. . The good news is that lead-acid batteries are 99% recyclable. This can travel through the ground into nearby streams, rivers, lakes, and water supplies. The lithium in Nevada seems to be in clay, not sure about environmental impact of extraction. Almost none of these are in areas where severe ecological destruction are likely to result. Posted February 19, 2018 by Charles Morris & filed under Newswire, The Tech.. As EVs proliferate, global demand for lithium is rapidly outpacing the rate at which it can be mined or recycled, but an international team of researchers are working on a … They power our cell phones, our laptops, our tablets, and electric cars. With no viable alternatives anywhere near mainstream production, Li-ion batteries look like they’re here to stay for a while. No sprays of sulfuric acid.”. It comes from the Earth, of course, but it doesn't require strip mining or blowing the tops off mountains like other resources do. “There’s nothing you would think of as mining,” reports Sumner. Also, I never suggested using taxes for either. They power the majority of the devices we use today that utilize rechargeable batteries, including the computer this article is being written and viewed on. Manufacturers have mitigated such issues in most applications, but the problem can still rear its ugly head when improperly discarded Li-ion batteries are exposed to pressure and heat in a landfill or recycling facility that can stimulate combustion. Doug Moss and Roddy Scheer In a world of modern technology, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are hard to escape; they’re in cell phones, laptops, and basically anything else with rechargeable batteries. EarthTalk is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to increasing environmental literacy in the U.S. through leveraging media channels. Worse Than Fracking? But hopefully, in the future, we will see more significant shifts away from fracking and towards renewable energy. Ben & Jerry's Is Now Making Dog Ice Cream — but What Is It Made Of? Since 2006 Roughneck City has been providing quality products for men and women in the oil & gas industry. This meme contrasting a photo of an open-air mine with that of an oil sands Based on what is currently known, fracking is a much more dangerous process than lithium mining, but unfortunately, both seem to be essential to the world today. Dear EarthTalk: Is the extraction of lithium for lithium ion batteries really worse for the environment than fracking? As with most mining operations that involve humongous hunks of metal filled with pressurized water, the fracking process is hardly foolproof. May 12th, 2016 by Guest Contributor . A request to drill for lithium near Death Valley National Park has alarmed environmentalists, who say mining the metal is unacceptable, even if … In fact, the demand for Li-ion batteries rose from zero percent market share in 1991 to 80 percent in 2007, and the European Commission expects the tonnage of lithium used in batteries to double between 2010 and 2020. Questions & Answers About Our Environment. Many countries, companies, industries, and individuals are dependent on oil and natural gas. EDITOR’S WARNING: It is important to read the article below. The oil sands mining does intact dig up oil saturated sand that is in many cases unable to support vegetation, remove the oil and replace the sand with clean soil. But is this animosity warranted? Such as water, soil and air contamination all around a lithium site. That brine is then left to evaporate for months, which creates a chemical concoction containing manganese, potassium, borax, and salts, which is filtered and placed into another evaporation pool. The truth is that there is a difference in insitu SAGD and oil sands mining. That's a difficult thing to calculate - taxes on the manufacture of different inputs makes that transparent to calculate. But the expense of the raw materials and the immaturity of the production processes will keep these emerging battery technologies on the drawing board for years to come while lithium ion continues to dominate the market. “Like any mining process, it is invasive, it scars the landscape, it destroys the water table and it pollutes the earth and the local wells,” said Guillermo Gonzalez, a lithium battery expert from the University of Chile, in a 2009 interview. Not only for the workers or the equipment, but also for nature and the people who live in the area where the fracking has occurred. The pressure then allows the gas to flow out of the head of the well and can be carried out vertically or horizontally to the rock layer, thus creating new pathways to release gas or extending existing channels. Fracking vs. lithium mining: Which is more dangerous? Currently Li-ion batteries’ biggest problem may be their tendency to combust—remember the recall of 500,000 hoverboards and then the infamous early version of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7? For all intents and purposes, lithium mining is cheap and effective. -- Mitch Newhouse, Oak Park, IL In a world of modern technology, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are hard to escape.They are in cellphones, laptops and basically anything else with rechargeable batteries. Dear EarthTalk: Is the extraction of lithium for lithium ion batteries really worse for the environment than fracking? Some countries have been trying to pass legislation that does away with this process, but even as environmentalists struggle to gain ground against their corporate and political adversaries, the novel threat of lithium mining has shifted a bit of focus away from the issue. —Mitch Newhouse, Oak Park, IL In a world of modern technology, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are hard to escape; they’re in cell phones, laptops, and basically anything else with rechargeable batteries. ... For coal mining, an extensive worksite is needed, complete with a large amount of equipment and mountains of waste which can not only be eyesores to the landscape, but also cost a hefty amount. “The U.S. fracking revolution has caused natural gas prices to drop 47% compared to what the price would have been prior to the fracking revolution in 2013” (para. 5:42 pm. Wendy McKee Another speed bump in the way of a “zero emissions” electric car is the mining of ingredients needed to build lithium-ion batteries and to provide magnets to electric motors. Unfortunately, the only way to get lithium out of the ground is to mine it from sand. Why do you bury this truth? Your email address will not be published. Traditional lithium mining is done through either hard rock or brine evaporation. The biggest environmental danger posed by lithium mining is the amount of water the process uses up: an estimated 500,000 gallons of water per ton of lithium extracted. The most economic modern lithium production method is extraction from salt flats, brine pool, and other such deposits. They call lithum "white gold" for a reason. Water is diverted from other uses, like feeding llamas and growing quinoa. This will set the path for other companies to use fracking technology in the U.K., possibly creating a shale boom similar to the one in the U.S. But thanks to some misinformation on the Internet, lithium extraction has gotten a bad rap. Fracking vs Lithium Meme Comment On This Article. No trucks driving around carrying loads of crushed rock. The process is named for what happens when the rock is fractured apart. A meme shared repeatedly since 2016 contrasts a large lithium mine with a small oil sands extraction site in order to denounce the environmental impact of lithium mining for electric car batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are an essential part of many modern pieces of technology. Mining and processing of lithium, however, turns out to be far more environmentally harmful than what turned out to be the unfounded issues with fracking. That means any number of unknown toxins are leeching their way into the earth. If the oil or gas wells are not built sturdily enough, they can leak and contaminate groundwater in something called “flowback.”. 3:49 am, You will always attack Canadian oil sands but will not tell the truth when it comes to the environmental costs of lithium mining. 100% BS through and through. Lithium mines don't look a heck of a lot different. In a world of modern technology, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are hard to escape; they’re in cell phones, laptops, and basically anything else with rechargeable batteries. “Like any mining process, [lithium mining] is invasive, it scars the landscape, it destroys the water table and it pollutes the earth and the local wells,” said Guillermo Gonzalez, a lithium battery expert from the University of Chile, in a 2009 interview. Fracking vs Coal - Analysing the Differences Request information. But the main environmental consequence of this is large amounts of water used to bind to the lithium to facilitate extraction. Lithium mining involves drilling a hole and pumping brine to the surface. edit: I know less about oil sands mining. The bottom image is of an Alberta oilsands operation, but it’s an in situ underground facility and doesn’t represent the enormous open-pit mining … New membrane extracts lithium from fracking waste water. Here’s How Fracking Causes Water Pollution, How Fracking Affects the Environment and Public Health, the people who live in the area where the fracking, oil or gas wells are not built sturdily enough, they can leak, 500,000 gallons of water per ton of lithium extracted. A newly improved sorbent could offer an environmentally friendly way to get lithium from a relatively untapped resource in the U.S.: the brine produced by geothermal power plants (Environ.Sci. Until those practices are mitigated and the processes stabilized, both lithium mining and fracking will continue to be environmental problems. Paul As a result, unsafe practices can cause catastrophic damage to water sources the world over. About Roughneck City. “This isn’t a green solution – it’s not a solution at all.”, Your email address will not be published. Lithium Mine vs. Oil Sands Extraction ... a close up view of a small fraction of the areas surveyed in the Landsat satellite images. Some of the chemicals used in the sand-water mixture are equally toxic if they leech into the soil or water table. Like it or not, there’s no escaping the fact that we are living in a technologically dependent world. Lithium Mining vs Oil Sands Meme: A Thorough Response. Jahdn However, the top photo shows a copper mine in Chile and the majority of lithium is extracted from brine. Chemicals are used but the dangers those pose are presumably nothing compared to the damage fracking is capable of inflicting. It's a horse vs car comparison.” The U.K., where fracking has been a controversial topic, has just allowed a local company to drill a set of wells for the first time since the company created a small earth tremor after drilling in 2011. — Mitch Newhouse, Oak Park, IL. EarthTalk, a California-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization, survives on your donations,so please consider making a tax-deductible contribution today! Obviously mining anything is going to be a huge-scale operation but it's pretty open and shut that driving an electric car has smaller impact on … It appears as though neither fracking nor lithium mining is as closely regulated as it should be. Gold, Nevada’s main mineral, along with lithium and fracking were the topics du jour at Carson City’s Rotary luncheon gathering Tuesday. “No blasting. Finally, expanding lithium mining operations could insulate lithium prices against potential shocks. Some of the most promising include batteries made from sodium-nickel chloride, silver zinc or aluminum graphite. The latter uses heat and chemicals and mining processes that cause more environmental harm. Lithium extraction does take an environmental toll, from the process of pumping briny groundwater containing lithium carbonate out of the ground and leaving it in pools so the excess water can evaporate. The company project then and now is the Kings Valley Lithium Project is located in Humboldt County in northern Nevada. They are a necessity, and thanks to the rechargeable nature, actually not all that bad for the environment. A friend of mine is adamant that the extraction of lithium for batteries (and the creation of battery cells themselves) is a very environmentally-damaging procedure, potentially even more-so than oil (open-cut mines vs oil wells), and that this is only going to get worse as more and more EV cars hit the roads, age, and need their batteries replaced. 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