La Paz, Jul 20 (EFE).- Bolivia has 23 million tons of lithium, the world’s largest reserve of the white metal that is central to plans for a transition to clean energy, President Luis Arce said Thursday.
During an event in the southwestern town of Coipasa, he presented the latest figures on how much lithium lies in the Coipasa and Pastos Grandes salt flats.
Before the study carried out by state-owned lithium company YLB, Bolivia’s reserves were quantified at 21 million tons, the president said.
“The good news, which will certainly resonate internationally because it will consolidate the country as the planet’s largest global reserve of lithium, is that today we have not 21 million, we have 23 million tons of lithium in Bolivian territory,” Arce said.
Bolivia must “intelligently” manage its position as the world’s leading source of “this so valuable element,” he said.
Work will begin soon on the construction of a highway and high-voltage electric line to accommodate the Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) plant to be built in Coipasa by Chinese consortium CBC, the president said.
Under the contract signed in January, CBC is to invest $1.4 billion in DLE facilities in Coipasa and at the Uyuni Salt Flat, which holds the lion’s share of Bolivia’s reserves.
Late last month, the Arce administration signed contracts valued at another $1.4 billion with China’s CITIC Guoan and Russia-based Uranium One Group for DLE operations in Uyuni and Pastos Grandes.
The president said that during a visit this week to Brussels for a summit of Latin American and European governments he noted a high level of interest in Bolivian lithium.
Bolivia is seeking to coordinate with neighboring Chile, Argentina, and Peru – also with substantial reserves – to develop the resource in a way that benefits the regional economy.