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Lithium Production Threat To Fragile Atacama Flats

SANTIAGO

A top environmental judge in Chile renewed a call for a government-vetted water study to help stamp out lingering questions about sustainability that have cast a pall over Chile’s lithium-rich Salar de Atacama. Water - both fresh and saline, where the lithium lies - has long been a sticking point for miners at Atacama, one of the world’s richest reserves of the ultralight battery metal. The flat sits amid the world’s driest desert. Mauricio Oviedo, president of the Environmental Tribunal of Antofagasta, a region home to all of the country’s lithium production and much of its copper output, called the salt flat “highly fragile.”

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