Major battery supplier CATL has won the right to participate in the development of Bolivia’s large reserves of lithium resources. On January 21, Reuters reported that the Bolivian government has chosen a consortium led by CATL to direct the mining of lithium in the country’s Uyuni and Oruro salt flats.
The consortium, which includes China Molybdenum Company (CMOC), has been given permission by the Bolivian government to set up two lithium mining and processing projects located respectively in Uyuni and Oruro. Each of these projects could output up to 25,000 metric tons of battery-grade lithium carbonate per year.
Bolivian President Luis Arce said the consortium has agreed to invest more than USD 1 billion (CNY 6.78 billion) to build the basic infrastructure such as roads for the first phase of project development. The consortium plans to create the conditions that will eventually enable Bolivia to domestically manufacture cathode materials and batteries.
South America has a “lithium triangle” that encompasses parts of Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile. This region holds more than 50% of the world’s lithium deposits. According to the US Geological Survey, Bolivia’s salt flats contain around 21 million metric tons of lithium resources.
It is worth noting that CATL and CMOC entered into an investment agreement in September 2022. This agreement is expected to make CATL the second largest shareholder of CMOC. Operating in Asia, Africa, South America, Oceania, and Europe, CMOC is one of the world’s leading mining companies. It is the top producer in the global markets for copper and tungsten (scheelite). It is also the second largest producer in the global markets for cobalt and niobium.
Currently, CMOC is actively expanding into the markets for battery materials and indirectly controls a stake in Huayueh Nickel and Cobalt. Through Huayueh, CMOC is acquiring more nickel processing capacity. Turning back to CATL, the company is securing lithium resources in the Americas, Africa, and Australia by investing in numerous non-Chinese mining companies. Examples include North American Lithium, Pilbara Minerals, Neo Lithium, and Manono.
Other members of the CATL-led consortium include CATL’s subsidiary Brunp. Acquired by CATL in 2015, Brunp’s battery recycling and material recovery business has become the second largest business unit within CATL after years of reorganization. In China, Brunp has built several major battery recycling bases.
This article is a translation of a Chinese article posted by Wendy at TrendForce. It contains information that is either sourced from other news outlets or accessible in the public domain. Some Chinese names are transcribed into English using Hanyu Pinyin.