Bolivia's Lithium Reserves Hold Promise, But Only On Its Terms

Morales government wants to maintain control over its natural resources after being exploited by foreigners and its own national neighbors.

Published: 31-Jan-2009

RIO GRANDE, Bolivia — On a remote Andean plain here, a short drive on unpaved roads from the world's largest salt flat, 120 government workers are constructing a facility to help power the fuel-efficient electric cars of the future.

The plant, in a sparsely populated region, is supposed to begin producing basic compounds of lithium, which is used to make batteries for cell phones, power tools, computers and other electronic devices, by year's end.

Government officials think that Bolivia possesses the world's biggest lithium reserves, and they also think that the country is poised to profit big-time from the automakers' push to develop electric cars that will run on lithium ion batteries.


The new batteries will make the GM Hybrid System nearly three times more powerful than the system it replaces. Pictured is 2009 Saturn Vue Green Line with Two-mode hybrid drive.

Dramatic developments in stored-power technology make electric cars more viable than ever. Pictures is Th!nk Global's new Ox crossover vehicle.

Chrysler is looking to develop their next generation of plug-ins to compete directly with GM's upcoming 2010 Volt using GE's 'dual-battery' energy storage system.


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