Anti-government protests in southern Bolivia over the past several weeks again highlight the risks of migrating to technologies that rely heavily on raw materials from limited sources. The protesters, who are calling for increased infrastructure development in the Potosi region of southern Bolivia, have virtually shut down lead, silver and zinc mines for more than two weeks. While Bolivia is mineral rich, much of the population has remained impoverished.

Bolivia has some of the world's largest known deposits of lithium, but so far the unrest has not affected those operations. The mines that have been shut down are owned by Sumitomo Corp of Japan. President Evo Morale's administration has promised not to use force to break up the protests and mining operations resumed earlier this week, however there is no gaurantee that protests won't spread. What this situation points out is the need to diversify energy and transportation sources. Just as relying entirely on a petroleum monoculture is bad for society and the environment, excessive reliance on lithium from one or two locations for advanced vehicle batteries could create its own problems.

[Source: Reuters | Image: Jennifrog - Flickr]

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