An abandoned road and brine Transitional Pool at the margin of the Salar de Atacama Halite Nucleus
Honors and Awards

Earth, Geographic and Climate Sciences’ Boutt Recognized by International Lithium Association

The International Lithium Association (ILiA), the not-for-profit industry body representing the global lithium industry, has welcomed UMass Amherst’s Professor David Boutt as an Honorary Fellow. This membership category is offered to individuals in recognition of the outstanding body of work which they have contributed to improving the understanding of lithium. Boutt is a renowned hydrogeologist in the Department of Earth, Geographic, and Climate Sciences with deep experience in lithium brines.

David Boutt
David Boutt

Boutt has published nearly 150 scholarly articles since 2002, and some of his recent work has investigated the complex hydrological dynamics of lithium mining, especially in the arid salt-flats where much of the world’s accessible lithium exists.

“Lithium is a component critical to the electrification of our society as it transitions from fossil fuels,” says Boutt. “Our research helps society and industry make informed decisions to minimize environmental impacts associated with lithium extraction. I am honoured to be a fellow of ILiA supporting their efforts to facilitate the energy transition.”

ILiA has more than 60 members that represent the entire lithium value chain, including the leading lithium producers, new mining projects, chemical specialists, refiners, engineers and specialist news outlets.

The association was formed in 2021 by leading lithium producers to support the industry during a time of unprecedented market growth. Driven by growth in electric vehicle production, demand for lithium is forecast to increase by five times in the period to 2040 according to the analyst Wood Mackenzie. Faced with rapid growth, change and attention, the lithium industry saw an urgent need for an association that could efficiently and effectively address common challenges, such as promoting a sustainable lithium value chain for the ‘lithium century.’

“On behalf of ILiA’s membership, I welcome Professor Boutt to ILiA,” says Anand Sheth, the association’s founding chairman.

A wetland near saline Laguna Tuyajto on the Andean Plateau east of Salar de Atacama   People in Photo: Lilly Corenthal (Received her M.S. with Dave in 2015 from UMass)

A groundbreaking study co-authored by Boutt in July 2022 was the first to comprehensively account for the hydrological impact of the mining of lithium, a key component in the transition away from fossil fuels.