South American Lithium Mines Threaten Native Water, Culture And Wealth

"In the “lithium triangle” – a region spanning Argentina, Chile and Bolivia – native communities sit upon a treasure trove of the stuff: an estimated trillion dollars in lithium."

"TUSAQUILLAS, Argentina — Irene Leonor Flores de Callata, 68, treks along a bone-dry riverbed, guiding a herd of llamas and sheep through stretching desert.

Flores de Callata’s native Kolla people have spent centuries climbing deep into the mountains of northern Argentina in search of a simple substance: Fresh drinking water.

Here, in one of the most arid environments in the world, it’s a life force that underpins everything.

In rainy months, the sacred lands surrounding their small adobe town of Tusaquillas well with water. In the dry months, families hike miles under the beating sun, hopeful their livestock can sip from a small plastic container, fed by a hose running high into the distant mountains."

Megan Janetsky, Victor R. Caivano and Rodrigo Abd report for the Associated Press March 13, 2024.

Source: AP, 03/14/2024