Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, has began shipping lithium to China in what is considered the first step towards fulfilling its ambitions to becoming the world’s No. 1 exporter of the commodity, used in high tech devices such as smart phones and electric cars, as well as in the pharmaceutical industry.
Those first 10 tonnes of lithium carbonate were extracted from a pilot plant at the country’s salt flats, located in the southwestern region of Uyuni, local newspaper EFE News Agency reports (in Spanish).
But with a price tag of barely $70,000, the move is being seen more like a symbolic transaction than a financial breakthrough for the country, which expects to multiply the figure into millions of dollars by 2020.
Lithium, frequently referred to as “white petroleum,” drives much of the modern world, as it has become an irreplaceable component of rechargeable batteries used in high tech devices.
And Bolivia should be in a great position to take advantage of the lithium boom — the country holds the world’s largest identified reserves, but it first has several issues to overcome.
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