Lithium leader: Bolivia's holds the largest reserves of the valuable metal

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Worth its salt

Bolivia’s position as the world leader in lithium reserves has crystallized above mineral industry touchstones Chile, Argentina, and the US this week, after reporting a 2 million ton increase in its supply of the alkali metal in this year alone.

On Thursday, the Bolivian President Luis Arce announced that confirmed lithium resources in the country have increased to 23 million tons — up from 21 million tons in January 2023, as recorded by the US Geological Survey — following extensive government-funded geological studies of more than 66 wells across the Coipasa and Pasto Grandes salt flats.

Bolivia has already signed three major deals in the first half of this year to exploit natural deposits of lithium found in the expansive salt flats in the south-east of the country. Two Chinese companies, as well as Russian nuclear firm Uranium One Group, have so far pledged a total of $2.8 billion to industrialize the iconic Salar de Uyuni  — Bolivia’s most popular tourist attraction, which spans 12,000 square-kilometres and contains over 10 billion tons of salt.

Reactive investment

Bolivia comprises a third of the “lithium triangle” in South America, alongside Argentina and Chile, which collectively holds more than half of all lithium resources globally. Technological and political challenges in the country have meant that its vast mineral resources have been largely untapped thus far, but the opportunity for Bolivia is immense.

Since 2010, lithium consumption has nearly quadrupled, predominantly due to global demand for rechargeable lithium batteries to power electric vehicles and portable electronic devices. If Bolivia can extract it, it could transform the country's economy — lithium production is expected to need to increase at least four-fold by 2030 to meet growing global demand.

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Lithium leader: Bolivia's holds the largest reserves of the valuable metal
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