Saturday, June 27, 2009

auto manufacturers race for bolivia's lithium reserves

Wharton | Recently, Bolivia has become the nerve center of Latin America, attracting the interest of several multinational companies. The reason: The world’s largest reserves of lithium are in this country, in the Salar (Salt Flats) de Uyuni.

Located in the Potosi region in the southeast of the country, 3,500 meters above sea level, the Salar de Uyuni holds five million tons of lithium, a mineral that is required for manufacturing batteries for hybrid and electric cars. The region represents an attractive investment option for global automotive manufacturers who are trying to break their dependence on petroleum and produce more fuel-efficient products.

For example, French manufacturer BollorĂ© has presented a proposal to Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, aimed at the massive exploitation and commercialization of the Uyuni mineral deposits. The race for Bolivian lithium has also been joined by Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors, followed closely by General Motors, which was engaged in talks with the Bolivian government before GM declared bankruptcy this year.