In Bolivia, China Signs Deal For World’s Largest Lithium Reserves – by Joseph Bouchard (The Diplomat – February 10, 2023)

Members of the Bolivian opposition have questioned whether the deal, which was signed last month between the state firm YLB and three Chinese companies, will benefit the country.

In late January, Bolivia’s Luis Arce government signed a $1 billion agreement with the Chinese firms CATL, BRUNP, and CMOC (CBC) and the Bolivian state company Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) to explore lithium deposits in the South American nation.

The CBC are Chinese firms with past involvement in lithium extraction, battery recycling, and metal mining, respectively.

Arce and YLB estimate that lithium will be able to be exported by the first trimester of 2025. Arce called for the “era of industrialization of Bolivian lithium” in his announcement speech at Casa Grande del Pueblo in La Paz. Arce rhetorically asked, “how many years had to pass before the country came on the right track to enjoying one of its natural resources, so highly valued in this day and age?”

Arce affirmed that lithium is a high-value commodity, and exploiting it is in alignment with meeting the “energy and climate crisis,” creating the adequate moment to exploit the resource “in the most sustainable way possible.”

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