go to top

Argentina, Bolivia and Chile: The ABCs of Lithium

Thursday, April 1, 2010

With growth in Asia increasing the long-term demand for oil, the quest for energy conservation has increasingly focused attention on lithium, the key resource needed for the manufacture of energy-efficient ion batteries powering hybrid cars. Demand for lithium carbonate doubled from 2003 to 2007, and a report by Credit Suisse states (.pdf) that the market for lithium-ion batteries may expand to 14 times its 2009 size by 2030.

Lithium is typically recovered from high-altitude desert areas, chiefly in the Andes Mountains, with roughly 80 percent of the world's known lithium reserves found in Argentina, Bolivia, or Chile. Alone, the salt flats of southwestern Bolivia contain more than half of the world's recoverable supplies, making it "the Saudi Arabia of lithium." But after two decades of piquing foreign interest in Bolivia's reserves, the country's natural resource policies, regional posture and poor infrastructure have caused investment in lithium recovery to increasingly favor Chile and Argentina. ...

Want to Read the Rest?
Login or Subscribe Today.
Get unlimited access to must-read news, analysis and opinion from top experts. Subscribe to World Politics Review and you'll receive instant access to 9,000+ articles in the World Politics Review Library, along with new comprehensive analysis every weekday . . . written by leading topic experts.

YES, I want to subscribe now.