Japan, Bolivia to Study Commercial Lithium Development

Source:

"Nations plan to develop the world's largest deposit of lithium."

Japan and Bolivia agreed to study plans to jointly develop the world's largest deposit of lithium at the Salar de Uyuni salt flat in the South American nation.

State-owned Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. will provide testing equipment and personnel for a pilot plant being built by Bolivia, the Japanese agency said today in a statement on its website. The agency signed the agreement with Corporacion Minera de Bolivia yesterday in La Paz, the statement said.

Japan, South Korea and France are vying to secure supplies from Uyuni. Demand for lithium, used in battery powered cars and portable electronics, may triple to about 110,000 metric tons in the next decade, James D. Calaway, chairman of lithium miner Orocobre Ltd., said last month.

Jogmec, as the agency is known, Mitsubishi Corp. and Sumitomo Corp., Japan's largest and third-biggest trading companies, have jointly developed technology to extract lithium and the agency has proposed sharing the technology with Bolivia.

Bolivia is home to about 5.4 million metric tons of lithium, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. That's enough of the metal to make batteries for more than 4.8 billion electric cars.

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