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The indigenous groups fighting against the quest for 'white gold'


"Our land is drying up and our water is polluted," says Nati Machaca, one of the protesters manning a roadblock in the village of Purmamarca, high in the Andes mountains.

Ms Machaca is a spokeswoman for the indigenous groups living in Jujuy, a province in northern Argentina.

Jujuy is located in what has become known as the "lithium triangle", a stretch of the Andes straddling the tri-border area between Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, which holds the world's biggest reserves of lithium.


The metal is used to make rechargeable batteries for everything from smartphones to laptops.


It has become especially sought after as electrical cars, which also use lithium in their batteries, are becoming increasingly popular.

Argentina is the world's number four lithium producer, but some residents of Jujuy say not only are they not benefiting from the industry, but that their way of life is under threat as a result of it.


Lithium extraction requires huge amounts of water - about two million litres per tonne.

And locals like Nati Machaca, who live off the land and raise cattle in this predominantly rural area, fear it is drying the soil and polluting the water.

"If this goes on, we will soon starve and become ill," she warns.

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