Lithium (called white gold) is a chemically active element compared to other elements. In South America, which produces the majority of lithium in the world, white gold is extracted from salt flats, but the method used is water-intensive in one of the acridest regions in the world.
Cobalt, another mineral required in battery production, is found almost exclusively in the Democratic Republic of
Moreover, lithium-ion batteries are currently too expensive to be recycled, which means they often end up in landfills, and Americans dispose of about 2 billion lithium-ion batteries each year.
However, there are projects in Sweden and Japan that are starting to recycle electric vehicle batteries that can still hold 70% of their charge even after several years of use.
Despite the rapid rise in demand, lithium-ion batteries have other drawbacks, such as safety issues and damage to the environment, because lithium-ion is inherently unstable meaning it could explode when damaged or exposed to high heat.
According to the U.S. Fire Department, the batteries caused 195 fires and explosions between 2009 and 2017, including notable issues faced by the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 in 2016.