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In the wastelands of Salar de Atacama, about 700 miles north of Santiago, is a huge lithium mine field operated by Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM), a Chilean chemical company, and the world’s third largest produced of lithium. The silver-white metal is found dissolved in brine, a mere 130 feet below the surface of the desert. The thick slushy brine is pumped from the ground and poured into shallow evaporation pools to dry under the hot desert sun. As the water slowly evaporates, it leaves behind a greasy yellowy material that yields one of the most precious metal of the 21st century.

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An aerial view of the brine pools and processing areas of the Soquimich lithium mine on the Atacama salt flat. Photo credit

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© Amusing Planet, 2015.



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