Rosatom and YLB ink an agreement on cooperation in lithium mining and production in Bolivia
Uranium One Group JSC, an entity of the ROSATOM Atomic Energy Corporation and YLB (Lithium Deposits of Bolivia, Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos) Bolivian State Company late last month signed a framework agreement on the construction of lithium carbonate mining and production complex in Potosí Department, Bolivia.
Uranium One Group, JSC is an international group of companies within the TENEX Group of ROSATOM. Today it is one of the world’s largest uranium mining companies with a diversified portfolio of international assets in Kazakhstan, Tanzania, and Namibia.
Today lithium is in the mainstream of the green economy; it is a critical element for the development of energy storage systems which have already been used on a large scale in several high-tech industries. The joint Russian-Bolivian project will make it possible to create in Bolivia, the country with the most abundant lithium reserves in the world, a complete production chain – from mining lithium raw materials to deriving a marketable product.
“The agreement opens up new prospects for long-term cooperation between Russia and Bolivia. For ROSATOM, this is the first large-scale foreign project in the field of lithium production, with investments of about 600 million dollars. It is planned to build an industrial complex with a capacity of 25 thousand tons of lithium carbonate per year to be expanded based on the results of geological exploration activities. We share the Bolivian Party’s interest in commissioning the first stage and starting production of finished products in as short a time as possible. Additionally, for the development of that high-tech industry in Bolivia ROSATOM will provide training of qualified personnel,” said Kirill Komarov, the First Deputy Director General for Development and International Business of ROSATOM.
Uranium One Group was awarded the agreement as a result of its participation in YLB’s International Competition of Direct Lithium Sorption Extraction Technologies. According to the signed document, the company will be involved in the construction of an industrial complex based on the brine spring (salar) of Pastos Grandes in the Potosí Department.
Lithium mining will rely on the Russian direct sorption extraction technology which has already proved to be highly cost-efficient and environmentally friendly.
ROSATOM has consistently developed cooperation with Bolivia. In particular, the project for the construction of the Center for Nuclear Technology Research and Development (CNTRD) in El Alto, which is unique in Latin America, is being successfully implemented, offering Bolivia great opportunities for the application of nuclear technology in health, agriculture, and other sectors. The first radiopharmaceuticals produced at the cyclotron complex built by ROSATOM have already been delivered to Bolivian clinics.
The new joint Russian-Bolivian project will additionally contribute to the social and economic development of the country and improve the quality of life of the Bolivian population.
The ceremony is to be attended by the President of Bolivia Luis Arce Catacora, the President of YLB Carlos Ramos, the Minister of Energies Franklin Molina Ortiz, the President of Lithium One Bolivia Jorge Alberto Roca Kauffmann (the Bolivian subsidiary of Uranium One).
As for Africa, this continent accounts for more than 5% of the world’s lithium resources, according to a 2020 US Geological Service summary. More lithium suppliers are therefore needed to accelerate the transition to clean energy and clean technologies.
This is where Southern African countries such as Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Botswana are expected to play a big role. So in 2023 Premier African Minerals (PREM.L) finished building a lithium processing plant at its Zulu mine in Zimbabwe. It is worth saying that Zimbabwe holds some of the world’s biggest hard-rock lithium deposits and has recently attracted about $700 million in investment from several Chinese firms. It is assumed that the newly opened plant will produce spodumene concentrate which is a key component in the production of batteries for electric vehicles.