Bolivia to Start Producing Lithium Car Batteries in 2018

LA PAZ – Bolivia plans by 2018 to begin producing lithium batteries for use in electric cars, according to a plan outlined on Wednesday by the Andean nation’s deputy minister of Science and Technology.

Roger Carvajal told a press conference that President Evo Morales’ government has settled on a basic strategy for exploiting the vast lithium deposits in the Uyuni Salt Flats.

He discussed the plan on the eve of an international forum in La Paz on the industrialization of lithium.

The U.S. Geological Survey says that Uyuni, a 4,000-square-mile expanse in southwestern Bolivia some 12,000 feet above sea level, holds roughly half of the world’s 11 million metric tons of proven and probable lithium reserves.

Morales will inaugurate the conference in La Paz on Thursday before traveling to Uyuni to inspect construction of a pilot plant to produce lithium carbonate, the main component of rechargeable batteries used in laptop computers, cell phones, iPods and digital cameras.

The plan detailed by Carvajal also calls for Bolivia to begin producing lithium carbonate on a commercial scale in 2013.

While Chile, Argentina and China already produce lithium carbonate, their cumulative output is insufficient to meet global demand and Bolivia hopes to fill that gap.

Morales’ administration is demanding that foreign companies vying for access to the Uyuni deposits partner with the government to produce electric-car batteries – for which lithium, the lightest of all metals, is a crucial component – and even build an electric-car factory in the country.

Among the companies that have expressed interest are France’s Bollore, Japan’s Sumitomo and Mitsubishi and South Korea’s Kores and LG.

Those firms have agreed to join Bolivian professionals on a scientific advisory committee that is studying Bolivia’s lithium potential. EFE

Source: Latin American Herald Tribune

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