The Islamic Post
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The economic future of Bolivia, the world's poorest nation, is apparently looking brighter because of the revenue potential of a silverish-white elemental metal called lithium. If you use a digital camera, cell phone, laptop computer, and innumerable other electronic devices , chances are, your gizmos are powered by lithium-ion batteries. 

The economic future of Bolivia, the world's poorest nation, is apparently looking brighter because of the revenue potential of a silverish-white elemental metal called lithium. If you use a digital camera, cell phone, laptop computer, and innumerable other electronic devices , chances are, your gizmos are powered by lithium-ion batteries. 
It is estimated that perhaps one-half of the world's known stores of lithium lay under Bolivia, where a pilot production plant is currently under construction. In the quest for clean, non-polluting energy sources, investors and speculators are placing much weight in the future of lithium for the transportation industry. Hybrid vehicles are now in widespread use across all sectors of business and government. Passenger and touring buses, motorbikes, golf carts, trucks and SUV's that are powered by lithium-ion and gas combination technology are now being mass produced in a surge of commercial excitement over the potential to transport people and goods cheaper and more profitably – and without the environmental perils of burning fossil fuels. Lithium -ion batteries are utilized and preferred over the older technology of the nickel based batteries for many reasons, including the fact that the lithium battery has a much greater energy storage capacity – about three times as much as nickel cells.
While Bolivia holds the largest actual stores of the element, Chile also has significant lithium deposits, and has made the most developmental progress in the realm of lithium mining and processing – a reasurring fact for concerned businesses in the US, who are counting up their potential resources for production of the batteries and related products that they hope to market worldwide. Orocobre, an Australian mining company, is engaged in a $100 million dollar lithium mining joint venture with the auto parts provider for Toyota in Argentina. "There is a sea of change underway, and we are at the front end, potentially, of a very significant increase in the demand for lithium for the emerging electric transportation sector," stated James D. Calaway, the chairman of Orocobre. The x-factor in that, he said, is the unpredictability of the market for future reference – how consumers, business and government will purchase electric vehicles – and lots of them. Is there a down side to this new surge? The president of TRU Group, Edward R. Anderson, consultants in the lithium industry, seems to think there is. "It's moving so fast…there are a lot of people throwing money into this, and a lot of people are going to lose their money."
 Of particular concern to environmentalists and indigenous people where the lithium is extracted and processed, is the fact that lithium is a poisonous metal with residues and other processing waste that will assuredly become a problem for people, plants, and animals in the surrounding mining areas. Bolivian mining minister, Luis Alberto Echazu, told the BBC News that " it is going to generate pollution, not just from fossil fuels, but also from lithium plants, which produce sulphur dioxide. This isn't a magic solution." California has mandated that the element be listed as one that is potentially harmful to humans in a warning such as the following: "Repeated or prolonged contact with skin may cause dermatitis; the substance may have effects on the central nervous system, cardiovascular systems, stomach and kidney if ingested, and may also cause reproductive toxicity in humans." The governments of these economically unstable countries must exercise the utmost of care to avoid selling the health and safety of their people at any price. 

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