The automaker BMW will invest 334 million US dollars in Argentina’s environmental protection and socially responsible lithium extraction technology. Whether it is the environmental impact of nickel and cobalt mining in Cuba or the health problems caused by mining runoff into Australia’s groundwater, mining natural resources for batteries can be a dirty business.
BMW is trying to solve this problem by directly purchasing raw materials for its car batteries and then providing these materials to its battery partners for production.
This initiative to increase transparency began in Australia in 2019, and now BMW is taking steps to go to Argentina to purchase lithium. According to an announcement on Tuesday, it started the process with a major investment of more than $334 million.
Unlike Australia and other places, lithium extraction in Argentina is usually done by extracting lithium-rich brine from salt lakes and evaporating the water in large pools. This causes problems in several ways, mainly damaging the balance between the saltwater and the groundwater layer. BMW is working with a company that has discovered a different way of doing things.
BMW’s partner Levent can extract lithium from saltwater without evaporating it, so it ends up losing less water, which means it can be pumped from there to a dry lake. Livent’s process also prevents chemicals and solvents from returning to the environment.
To keep things going, BMW participated in the “Responsible Mining Guarantee Initiative“, which puts forward guidelines for the responsible extraction of raw materials and strict requirements for members to meet strict environmental requirements and social standards. BMW was the first car manufacturer to do so, which also prompted Levent to join the ranks.
What does this mean for you as a consumer? Apart from knowing that the battery and motor components of your electric car come from socially and environmentally responsible sources, it will not affect you at all. However, it is still important, and we are very happy to see BMW moving in this direction.