Multinationals Eye Bolivian Lithium Reserves

Bolivia's socialist government has a habit of clashing with foreign multinationals and reaching an agreement on lithium could prove difficult.

Published: 18-Jun-2009

Stand in the middle of Salar de Uyuni, the world's greatest salt desert, and the first word that springs to mind is nothing. As far as the eye can see, nothing. Not a shrub or tree, not a hill or valley, just an endless expanse of white.

This salt flat in Bolivia, the landlocked heart of South America, is a harsh and eerie landscape, perhaps the closest thing nature has to a void. From the Incas to the present day, humanity has made little impression here.

But that may be about to change. Dig down and you find brine – water saturated with salt – rich in deposits of lithium, the lightest metal.


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