Bolivian Gov't Aims to Become Global Kingpin of Lithium


". . .the country wants to exploit lithium in a sovereign manner. . ."

As China and Japan compete for the right to mine for Bolivia's lithium resources, Bolivia National Mining Director Freddy Beltran says the government wants to mine the lithium in Salar de Unyuni in southern Bolivia without partners.

Beltran told the newspaper La Razon the country wants to exploit lithium in a sovereign manner, using its own technology and its own resources. President Evo Morales has stressed on several occasions that he will demand the government have a majority participation in the income from lithium extraction.

However, Beltran noted, "We need the technology to manufacture batteries and we are light years behind in that. That's why we need a partner."

The Bolivian government built a small pilot plant to produce lithium carbonate in small quantities, in order to gain experience in order to later enter a phase of industrializing the metal.

A delegation of executives from Sumitomo and Mitsubishi has reportedly promised Bolivian government officials that Japanese mining technology will be shared with Bolivia. Japan's expertise is believed to be a solution to extracting the lithium under Salar de Unyuni, which is considered to be the lithium equivalent of Saudi oil reserves.

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