Category Archives: Environment

Bolivia’s lithium bonanza

BBC reports, listen by clicking the photo:

The Salar de Uyuni is a stunning pristine salt flat high in the Andes – it is also the world’s biggest lithium deposit, worth many billions of dollars.

Ed Butler asks whether this as yet untapped resource will prove a blessing or a curse for the people of Bolivia. It has already played a role in the political instability that brought down the country’s long-time socialist president, Evo Morales, last year.

Daniela Sanchez-Lopez, an expert in the geopolitics of clean energy at Cambridge University and herself Bolivian, explains how the exploding demand for lithium batteries for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage, means that many powerful nations have their eyes on the salt flat.

Among them is Germany. Ed speaks to Wolfgang Schmutz, founder of ACI Group, the clean energy company that had won a contract to develop the lithium deposit, before being dumped during the political unrest last year. We also hear from Gunnar Valda, head of the Bolivian state lithium company YLB.

(Picture: Woman standing on the Salar de Uyuni; Credit: hadynyah/Getty Images)