South Korea, Bolivia to Sign Lithium Deal


"South American country has nearly half the world's known reserves."

South Korea and Bolivia are close to a deal to develop a coveted lithium resource in the South American country, which has nearly half the world's known reserves, a report said Tuesday.

The Chosun Ilbo quoted an unidentified senior government official as saying that the two countries were working on a final draft of the deal to be signed when Bolivian President Evo Morales visits Seoul late this month.

But a South Korean foreign ministry spokesman said it was too early to say whether the deal could be sealed.

The agreement would allow South Korea to participate in a lithium development project in Salar de Uyuni—the world's largest salt flat in southern Bolivia—where Japan, China, France and Brazil have also expressed interest.

Morales will visit for three days to meet President Lee Myung-Bak, a foreign ministry official told AFP. Details including dates have not yet been announced.

Lithium is used in rechargeable batteries for laptop computers, mobile phones and electric cars.

The state-run Korea Resources Corp. in August last year signed an agreement with Bolivia's state mineral development agency to develop technologies for producing lithium carbonate from the salty water of the Uyuni.

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