Salar de Uyuni and Lithium

Western edge of the Salar de Uyuni

Today’s Pic du Jour is taken from the western edge of the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, the largest salt flat on the planet. It’s also home to the world’s largest reserves of lithium, the element that feeds the rechargeable batteries that power our smart phones, laptops and tablets and fuels electric vehicles.

Bolivian president Evo Morales is banking big on lithium, insisting the white powder could play a major role in helping to bring his country, generally regarded as South America’s poorest, out of the shackles of poverty.

But the location, landscape and harsh terrain, one that draws 60,000 visitors each year, poses hefty challenges for extraction. The lack of roads and basic infrastructure along with the flat’s seasonal flooding makes lithium mining an expensive proposition. For now, that’s a silver lining for those convinced that mining could have a disastrous impact on the area’s delicate ecosystem.

Photo snapped on 28-Mar-2013
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