Thursday, October 1, 2009


Cameras, computers, and cellphones. They all share a common link and component. The lithium-ion battery. The lithium legacy is undoubtedly heading toward the addition of a new member. The Four C's - cameras, computers, cellphones, and the car. Lithium batteries offer better storage and longer life than the older nickel-metal hydride models, making them ideal for a space-constrained, long-running vehicle.

But where are the known reserves of lithium? Basically in one place. Three quarters of the world's known lithium reserves are concentrated in the Atacama Desert. When it comes to hostile environments, few places can match the Atacama Desert. It's one of the most arid places on the planet, moistened by just half an inch of rain a year. The Atacama is shared by two countries: Chile and Bolivia. Friendly neighbors? Hardly - the one thing these two countries have in common is a historical animosity. The troubled relationship dates to their 19th-century War of the Pacific when Chile was able to cut off Boliva's access to the sea, a maneuver that is still bitterly discussed in La Paz today.

The United States gets 61 percent of its lithium imports from Chile. The path to either competition or cooperation between Chile and Bolivia needs to be given a watchful eye by the international community. We may all be feeling the impact and force behind a new and powerful organization - the Organization of the Lithium Exporting Countries (OLEC).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.