Chinese company wins bid to build lithium factories in Bolivia

By Agence France-Presse

Bolivia’s public mining company Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) has reached agreement with China’s Xinjiang TBEA Group-Baocheng to build eight lithium producing factories in the Andes, YLB said on Thursday.

The agreement aims to develop “strategic cooperation” between the two companies to ensure the “financing and realization of industrial projects” in the saline lakes of Coipasa and Pastos Grandes, YLB said.

Xinjiang bested competition from two Chinese rivals, three Russia companies and two more European ones.

Bolivia President Evo Morales, who attended the signing of the agreement, said there would be $2.39 billion invested in the eight factories.

Xinjiang will carry out preliminary studies for the construction of five factories in Coipasa that will produce potassium sulphate, lithium hydroxide, boric acid, bromine and sodium bromide.

The Pastos Grandes factories will manufacture chloride, lithium carbonate and metallic lithium.

“We must first work on the design of the feasibility study, the project won’t start tomorrow,” said Luis Alberto Echazu, Bolivia’s high energy technologies deputy minister.

Echazu said the entire process would take “four or five years” before the factories are completed.