People & Power

Argentina’s ‘white gold’: Will its lithium boom end badly?

How a battle over mineral resources in Argentina could determine the fight against global warming.

Argentina is home to huge reserves of lithium, a light metal used in electric batteries that is likely to be vital for reducing our reliance on planet-warming fossil fuels.

But those reserves lie beneath the vast Andean salt plains – a unique ecosystem stretching between Argentina, Bolivia and Chile that Indigenous communities are desperate to protect from a mining boom.

They say lithium production sucks up scarce groundwater and would be environmentally catastrophic for this stunning but arid region.

So, is it possible to extract the metal – and fight climate change – without causing significant ecological damage? People and Power investigates.