Bolivia Signs New Agreement with Russian Uranium One for Lithium Carbonate Production

Bolivia signed a new agreement with the Russian group Uranium One to establish a lithium carbonate plant using direct extraction technology, projecting an annual production of 14,000 tons, which represents a significant step in the country's economic diversification efforts.

Luis Arce, signing an agreement

Photo: X @LuchoXBolivia


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Leer en español: Bolivia firma un nuevo acuerdo con la rusa Uranium One para producir carbonato de litio

Bolivia and Russia Sign Agreement for Lithium Carbonate Plant

The Government of Bolivia signed a new agreement this Wednesday with the Russian company Uranium One Group, for the installation of a lithium carbonate plant with direct mineral extraction (EDL) technology with a production projection of 14,000 tons per year in its last phase.

The agreement was signed by the president of the state-owned Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB), Karla Calderón, and a representative of the Russian company, in an event at the Government House in La Paz in which the president of the country also participated, Luis Arce, and the Minister of Hydrocarbons and Energy, Franklin Molina.

Announcement of Invitations to Companies from Around the World

Arce highlighted the importance of lithium as a new "engine of economic development" for his country, taking into account that natural gas, which for years was the lifeline of the Bolivian economy, is in decline "due to lack of investment and exploration."

The president also announced that a "new invitation will be opened to companies from around the world" that are interested in investing in the lithium industry in Bolivia under the terms set by his Government.

The president of YLB recalled that this is the second agreement with Uranium One Group, a subsidiary of the Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, the first was in June for the installation of a lithium carbonate industrial complex with EDL technology in the Pastos salt flats. Large, in the Andean region of Potosí.

Details of the New Agreement and Construction Phases

The new agreement will be valid for two years and establishes the assembly of "an EDL pilot plant that will escalate to the construction of an industrial plant of 14,000 tons per year" of lithium carbonate in the Uyuni salt flat, also in Potosí and that It concentrates the majority of Bolivian reserves of the element.

The plant will be built in the Potosí municipality of Colcha-K to process lithium carbonate with a "battery grade in its purity" and will be developed in three phases, Calderón explained.

In the first phase, the pilot plant will produce 1,000 tons per year, in the second its capacity will be expanded to 8,000 tons and in the third "5,000 more tons will be added, making a total of 14,000 tons of lithium carbonate per year," he detailed. 

Minister Molina indicated that in the first phase, an investment of 100 million dollars is contemplated and in the second, which will be an "expansion of a semi-industrial module", 200 million will be invested.

Lithium Reserves in Bolivia and Continuous Industrial Development

Last January, Bolivia signed an agreement with the Chinese consortium CATL BRUNP & MOC (CBC) that committed an investment of 1.4 billion dollars in the assembly of two EDL plants in the Uyuni and Coipasa salt flats, in the Andean region of Oruro.

At the end of June, two other agreements were signed with the Chinese firm Citic Guoan and with Uranium One Group for the installation of two EDL complexes in Uyuni and Pastos Grandes, with an investment that in total reaches 1.4 billion dollars to produce at least 45,000 tons of lithium per year.

Read also: Puerto Rico's Renewable Energy as a Path to Economic Growth

According to a study carried out by YLB, Bolivia has the world's first lithium reserve, having increased from 21 to 23 million tons.

Bolivia already has salt and potassium chloride industrialization plants and a lithium carbonate pilot plant in operation.

The inauguration of an industrial lithium carbonate plant in Uyuni with evaporation technology using pools is announced this Friday, in is expected to produce about 15,000 tons.

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