Using Landsat data from the US Geological survey, NASA’s Laren Dauphin recently imaged the Salar de Atacama in Chile. The enclosed basin is the world’s largest source of lithium, producing 29 percent of the world’s reserves. Much of it will wind up in rechargeable batteries used by EVs, laptops and smartphones, but how it gets there is surprising — think salt production, not pit mines.
Salar de Atacama is a salt flat from an ancient sea bed that contains massive reserves of lithium brine beneath its surface (“salar” means “salt flat”). It’s cut off in the east by the Andes mountains, and to the west by another range called Cordillera de Domeyko. It’s the driest desert in the world and with the high altitude (1.4 miles above sea level) the relentless sun would damage your skin in just minutes.
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