SALAR DE UYUNI, Bolivia, May 23 (Reuters) – On Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, a vast white salt flat that feels almost otherworldly, Karina Quispe is watching from the sidelines a global resource race for the world’s largest – and almost untapped – trove of battery metal lithium.
Her village on the edge of the salar – from where most of the men have migrated to Chile to find work – has so far seen few jobs or benefits from the mineral wealth beneath the plains.
“This is a forgotten town,” said Quispe. As the government readies to award a lithium mining project to one or more of a global array of suitors, she is hopeful that could change.
It is the South American country’s most ambitious effort yet to exploit its lithium at a time when carmakers and governments are scrambling to secure supplies for the metal that is needed for the batteries powering the electric vehicle revolution.