Bolivia Investigations: Lithium

Bolivia and its Lithium

Can the “Gold of the 21st Century” Help Lift a Nation out of Poverty?

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The Democracy Center Reports:


Underneath Bolivia’s glimmering Salar de Uyuni lies the world’s largest supply of lithium, the metal that promises to change transportation as we know it. Governments and the auto industry are investing big so that some day soon electric car owners will be able to fill up their car’s battery at an electrical socket instead of filling up their tank at a pump. What this means for Bolivia is a lot of attention from potential investors who are vying for a piece of this strategic resource, giving South America’s poorest country an important opportunity to lift itself out of poverty.

For more than a decade, since its original reporting during the Cochabamba Water Revolt, the Democracy Center has been offering readers around the globe serious and independent coverage of Bolivia’s resource battles. In this 2010 report, the Democracy Center looks closely at the efforts of global interests to get their hands on Bolivia’s lithium and of Bolivia’s plans to exploit it for the benefit of her own people.

Drawn from more than three dozen interviews, with government officials, economic and technical experts, environmentalists, and members of the communities where the lithium resides, the report looks at the economic, environmental and social issues involved in Bolivia’s lithium plans.

Table of Contents

      • Executive Summary

      • Introduction: Bolivia and the Paradox of Plenty

      • Part One: Lithium – The Superhero of Metals:

        A look at lithium and its many uses, at the emerging markets for lithium and questions about that market’s long-term prospects.

      • Part Two: The Race for Bolivia’s Lithium:

        An examination of the region where Bolivia’s lithium resides, of the key actors in Bolivia’s lithium chase and at the Bolivian government’s plans to exploit and export lithium.

      • Part Three: The Challenges Ahead on Bolivia’s Lithium Highway

        An analysis of the most urgent challenges that face Bolivia and its dreams of exploiting its lithium to its best advantage: the economics, potential environmental impacts, the threat to communities, and the capacity of the Bolivian government to manage its program.

      • Conclusion: Can Bolivia Beat the Resource Curse?

    Read the full report in PDF here

    Read just the executive summary in PDF here                                                 acrobat

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