“Where are you going to find experienced lithium miners? That’s like finding unicorns,” laughs James Brown, the managing director of Western Australian resources firm Altura Mining . Brown is the next best thing. Hailing from a family five generations deep in coal mining, the burly Queenslander never imagined he’d be applying his expertise to digging out a key building block of a low-carbon economy. For a man not particularly fussed about the climate crisis, it’s an unlikely sector to have ended up in. But when it comes to lithium, the two factions of Australia’s climate wars have reached an uneasy truce. James Brown, managing director of Altura Mining. Photograph: Rebecca Toh/The Guardian On the one side, environmentalists are engaging with a resources sector they distrust to nudge it towards lithium, an element which is used in batteries for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage systems due to its remarkably high energy density. On the other, miners like Brown are suppressing scepticism of green causes to carve out a future in a world aiming to divest itself of fossil fuels. Brown joined Altura Mining in 2009, and set about helping the small coal miner diversify into other resources as a […]

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