World’s green quest needs Latin America’s metals

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This story is part of the megatrend Climate change that's shaping the world today and tomorrow.

May 2023
Countries around the world want electric vehicles to replace CO2-emitting cars. For that to happen, carmakers and battery producers need access to metals mined in Latin America.

Lithium and copper are metals needed in batteries. More than half of the world’s lithium and 40% of its copper can be found in Latin American countries including Chile, Bolivia and Brazil, reports The Economist.

That’s why China, the European Union and the US are among big players working hard to develop collaboration with Latin American governments and mining companies.

The challenge for foreigners is that local governments have become more protective of their natural resources. Many of them feel that US and European corporations have previously exploited Latin America without benefitting locals.

Now, governments want more say over how mining is done in order to gain from it, benefit more people and protect the environment from destruction linked to mining.

Still, there’s no guarantee that increased government say will benefit everyday Latin Americans. Politicians and businessmen in the region have a poor track record when it comes to ethics, equality and environment protection.

For example, state-owned firms from Brazil and Venezuela have a history of corruption.

Reference shelf:
The green revolution will stall without Latin America’s lithium (The Economist)

Lithium in Latin America: A new quest for “El Dorado”? (United Nations)

Latin America’s New Lithium Bounty Unearths an Old Problem (Bloomberg)

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