“Below a summary of key findings from the first four years of our investigation.”

Negative impacts of resource extraction:

During our research we were able to confirm other researchers' findings and local people's testimony on the impacts of extraction. We noted that:

The extraction of water for lithium and copper mining has impacted the lagoons and water table in the Salar de Atacama;

The depth of the water table has been steadily decreasing;

Vegetation cover has decreased all across the salar;

Animal and microbial ecosystems have been affected by the reduction in water levels, by shifts in the flow of water and by changes in the water’s chemical composition;

Dust and particulate materials released by mining activities generate a white haze that is permanently over the salar.

Additionally, we have noted the following under-discussed issues:

That mental ecologies have deteriorated all across the salar’s communities, manifest in prevailing suspicion and intra-community conflict. This is due to the direct impacts of extraction over agricultural modes of existence; and due to the heavy burden of contesting extractivism, magnified by both state and mining companies' political and financial pressure over local community leaders and representatives.

This is magnified by the presence of multiple non-local mediators such as advocacy teams, expert teams, and multiple foundations, whose ultimate goals are often unclear;

That poorly planned urbanisation is affecting the northern areas of the salar, with soil impermeabilisation leading to the worsening of yearly flood events from the Andes;

That water overconsumption for restoration and hotels adds pressure on limited water resources;

That IPCC climate change scenarios indicate a reduction of Salar de Atacama’s competitive advantage over salt-flats in Bolivia and Argentina, due to an increase in rainfall and cloud cover, and therefore reducing evaporation rates.