BMW Group joins sustainable lithium mining project in Chile

Responsible management of natural resources is one of the core elements of the BMW Group’s commitment to sustainability. Within the framework of these activities, the company has joined the cross-sector “Responsible Lithium Partnership” project. Its aim – reports a press release – is to reach a shared understanding of responsible management of natural resources with local interest groups and develop a vision for the future of the Salar de Atacama salt flat in Chile.

The “Responsible Lithium Partnership” was initiated in spring 2021 by BASF, the Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Daimler Truck AG, Fairphone and the Volkswagen Group for a planned duration of three years. The project does not promote lithium sourcing or the purchase or sale of mineral raw materials.

The BMW Group is the sixth member to join the initiative. One of the ways in which it is supporting the project is by sharing scientific findings on the impact of lithium mining on water resources in Chile’s Salar de Atacama. Together with BASF, the BMW Group had already commissioned a study by the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Massachusetts Amherst into the effects of lithium mining on local water balances in Latin America in late 2020.

The aim of the study is to gain a better scientific understanding of the interdependencies between freshwater and lithium brine layers, evaluate various technologies and acquire the expertise to assess sustainable lithium mining. The study provides a scientific basis for future decisions about lithium sourcing.

The German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) is coordinating the project, aimed at developing a joint vision for the future of the water catchment areas of the Salar de Atacama. Representatives from lithium and copper mining, agriculture, tourism, indigenous communities and government are invited to a local multi-stakeholder platform where they will develop measures together. A further aim is to develop a joint action plan to improve long-term management of natural resources and implement initial steps.

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