Bolivia to produce electric-car batteries


La Paz : Bolivia is planning to begin the production of lithium batteries for electric cars by 2018, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Roger Carvajal said here, according to a report.

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Carvajal said 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 industrialisation of lithium, the report added Wednesday.

The US Geological Survey says that Uyuni, a 10,500 sq km expanse in southwestern Bolivia some 3,656 metres above sea level, holds roughly half of the world’s 11 million tonnes of lithium reserves.

Morales will inaugurate the forum Thursday before travelling to Uyuni to inspect the construction of a pilot plant which will produce lithium carbonate, the main ingredient of rechargeable batteries used in laptops, cell phones, iPods and digital cameras, the report said.

Carvajal said that the plan also includes the production of lithium carbonate on a commercial scale in 2013.

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

The report added that Morales’ administration is asking the foreign companies vying for access to the Uyuni deposits to forge partnership with the government to produce electric-car batteries and also build a electric-car factory in Bolivia.

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

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