The Salinas Grandes are located at 4000 meters above sea level, in the provinces of Salta and Jujuy. To the north, in Jujuy, is the Guayatayoc Lagoon. The area is inhabited by 6,500 people in 33 Atacameño and Kolla communities, who make their living by herding animals, growing small crops and extracting salt. None of the people have title to community land. With the arrival of lithium companies in 2010, the communities of the Salinas basin saw their historical rights over the use of salt threatened. They united to protect their territory, forming the "Mesa de Comunidades Indígenas de la Cuenca de Salinas Grandes y Laguna de Guayatayoc para la defensa del territorio" (Board of Indigenous Communities of the Salinas Grandes and Laguna de Guayatayoc Basin for the defense of the territory).
The local communities are very concerned about the problems that lithium mining could bring to their territories — in particular, the negative impacts on the salt flats, the environment, and the people. They are concerned about the dangers posed by the heavy use of water in lithium mining, which could lead to severe desertification, prevent continued habitation in the Salinas basin, and force migration to other places. There is also concern about the negative effect mining could have on the emerging tourism industry that has been developing in the region for some years.
The communities of the Salinas basin are aware of what is happening in other nearby salt flats where lithium mining has already begun — for example, in the Salar de Olaroz and the Salar de Atacama in Chile. In such fragile environments such as the salt flats, the invasive nature of lithium mining is made evident through huge pools for water evaporation, drilling towers and other installations, heavy truck traffic, enclosures, etc. The families who live with their animals on the edges of the salt flats see the mining companies as an invader in their territories and of their natural resources. It should also be noted that in their Indigenous worldview, any intervention in the natural environment is potentially risky, because it can distort or even break the complex web of reciprocal relationships built with nature through daily practices and rituals .
For twelve years, the communities, who have been given legal recognition in Argentina, have been denouncing before different institutions and forums that they were not consulted and that their national and internationally-recognized rights are being violated. Some of their actions include: building alliances with human rights and environmental NGOs, efforts to gain legal recognition as Indigenous Peoples, and high-impact protests, such as a road blockade carried out in the province of Tumbaya. They have taken legal action against provincial governments and mining companies at the national and international levels. At the national level, in 2011, they filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (CSJN), given that it is an interjurisdictional conflict, and requested effective implementation of free, prior, and informed consultation(3). The CSJN held a public hearing with the affected parties and the government of Jujuy (the government of Salta was not summoned). They also filed a complaint before the United Nations Permanent Forum on Human Rights in Geneva (advisor to ECOSOC), which made recommendations to the government of Argentina, and they also filed a complaint with the UN Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, who visited them in their territory and included in his report the problems in Salinas Grandes .
As a result of these many actions, they have managed to temporarily halt the development of lithium projects in their territory.
State and corporate discourse to advance the project
There is a global urgency to rapidly reduce carbon emissions in order to combat climate change. In fact, there is a global goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To achieve this goal, a transition from current fossil fuel-based energy systems to renewable energy systems is being promoted. In this transition, technologies based on electrification and energy storage play a key role. In this context, lithium has been characterized as a critical metal for the energy transition given its essential role in the manufacturing of electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries as an alternative to conventional cars.
Canada's Dajin Lithium Corp is aware of lithium’s role in the energy transition and is using it as an opportunity to promote its business. Behind an apparent concern to reduce CO2 emissions through electromobility, Dajin capitalizes on the transition to electromobility in order to attract investors interested in investing in "green" projects by stressing that "there is a greater interest in looking after the environment with a continued scare of global warming" . The company publishes articles on its website advocating for the energy transition, frequently quoting Elon Musk , the magnate of the US electromobility company, TESLA Inc, which specializes in the production of lithium batteries and electric cars in North America. In Dajin’s presentations, representatives remind investors that "with some of the biggest personalities in business pushing it forward, green energy will continue to show up on investors’ radars for years to come." 
On the other hand, using similar corporate mining discourses, the government of Argentina talks about the need to exploit lithium, given that Argentina is the country with the second-largest lithium reserve in the world. The Secretary of Mining of Jujuy, for his part, frames lithium within the framework of the energy transition, including it among the "energy alternatives for the care of the environment" . However, he goes further, and states that the Salinas Grandes project is needed even if this means it is imposed at the expense of communities. In the documentary In the Name of Lithium, the Secretary says "We have the obligation to take care of the people and to listen to the communities, but we also have an obligation to 40,000 people in Argentina who need development [projects]. So if the government defines that this is important for the development of the province, the government will advance it" .
On the other hand, during the world's largest mining convention, held by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) every year in Toronto, Canada, representatives of the national government and governors of several Argentine provinces, including Jujuy, highlighted Argentina's geological mining potential and the opportunities for international mining companies in the country. They also described mining in the country as an inclusive, sustainable and green activity that improves the lives of the population. PDAC is an "annual conference where mining companies from around the world converge to make deals and ensure they can continue operating in ways that prioritize profit no matter the other costs," ignoring the environmental, social, and human rights impacts of their operations .
Using the same corporate mining discourses, the Argentine delegation to PDAC highlighted lithium as a vital metal to confront the "new challenges of the green industrial revolution" .
These environmental and social concerns, as well as the violation of consultation that the Mesa de Comunidades Indígenas de la Cuenca Salinas Grandes y Laguna Guayatoyoc para la defensa del territorio have spoken about for over ten years, underscore that the energy transition discourse used by mining companies bent on exploiting lithium in their territories is nothing more than another attempt to clean up their image and hide the human rights violations and environmental repercussions of mining from their investors in the Global North. As Clemente Flores of the El Moreno community in Salinas Grandes points out: "The planet needs to consume cleaner energy, but why does it have to be done at the cost of sacrificing a region of the planet? And on our land?".