Bolivia to harvest lithium on its own

As I featured last February, the drive toward “energy independence” for the West veered into Bolivia’s vast deposits of lithium. Well it seems that some sort of tide has changed.

bolivia lithium

Bolivia wants to exploit its huge lithium reserves on its own without the participation of private foreign companies, a senior government official said in an interview published on Sunday.

The government of President Evo Morales has been in discussions since last year with companies from France, Japan and South Korea about developing its reserves of lithium, used to make batteries for gas-electric hybrid vehicles.

But Freddy Beltran, director general of the Mining Ministry, indicated that Bolivia would seek financing to develop the lithium reserves itself.

“In reality, what the state wants is to have the industrial plant with its own resources,” Beltran was quoted as saying by the newspaper La Razon. “It doesn’t matter whether we have to look for financial support from a bank or some other entity.”

The government has said the private companies want to extract and export lithium in its raw form, while La Paz is adamant about wanting to process it in Bolivia.

The government is currently building a pilot plant in the Andean region of Uyuni to produce lithium carbonate, which is used in the production of lithium car batteries. It is scheduled to go into operation next year.

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~ by Daniel on June 16, 2009.

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