Monday, September 16, 2013

Evo Moráles and Bolivia's Lithium Deposits

The Deposit

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Courtesy of Anouchka Unel

Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni,  is the world's largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers. It's part of Bolivia's Altoplano at an altitude of 3,656m. The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. It is covered with a solid salt crust varying in thickness between tens of centimeters and a few meters.The brine below the salt crust is a saturated solution of Sodium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Lithium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride and Borax in water. Of those, Lithium is most valuable as it is a vital component of many electric rechargeable batteries. With estimated 9,000,000 tonnes, Bolivia holds about 50% of the world's Lithium reserves according to USGS. Salar de Uyuni is estimated to contain 10 billion tonnes of salts. Lithium is concentrated in the brine under the salt crust at a relatively high concentration of about 0.3%.