Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environment, Economics, and Politics (EEP)

Reader 1

William Ascher

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Climate change mitigation efforts have grown in recent years, giving rise to energy transition technologies, including electric vehicles and grid storage, which rely heavily on lithium. The resulting acceleration of lithium demand poses an opportunity for Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile – collectively referred to as the Lithium Triangle, where more than half of the world’s lithium resources are found – to produce lithium as a way of generating revenue that can be redistributed to increase social well-being. Despite the enticing opportunity, lithium extraction has several socioecological and economic risks that may make lithium extraction a futile endeavor. This thesis aims to assess the geographical conditions, governance frameworks, and socioenvironmental risks of lithium extraction within each country to recommend risk mitigation measures. This thesis finds evidence of violations of indigenous rights, particularly regarding the free, prior, and informed consent process required prior to lithium mining operations, as well as instances of misbehavior by mining companies in the Lithium Triangle. The paper concludes that for lithium extraction in the Lithium Triangle to truly increase social well-being, important changes must be made.