The place with the most lithium fuels the electric car revolution

SALAR DE ATACAMA, Chile — Hailed as the Saudi Arabia of lithium, this California-sized piece of land accounts for about 55 percent of the world’s known deposits of the metal, a key component of electric vehicle batteries.

As a Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD Co. recently learned that tapping into this resource can be a challenge. Earlier this year, after BYD won a government contract to mine lithium, Indigenous residents took to the streets demanding the tender be canceled due to concerns about the impact on supply in local water. In June, the Chilean Supreme Court overturned the ruling, saying the government had failed to consult indigenous peoples beforehand.


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