Friday, August 07, 2009

ABC Nightline on Bolivian lithium "mine" in an Altiplano salt flat: a new boom from electric car demand?

Last night (Thursday Aug 6) ABC Nightline presented a brief report “Lithium Boom in Bolivia”. No, that doesn’t mean lithium as a psychoactive drug; it refers to the enormous need for lithium for future hybrid and electric cars as part of the green revolution, to counter “peak oil” and global warming. ABC provides only a generic link, so I don’t know how long the video will stay, here.

On a huge salt flat on the Altiplano, at 12000 feet (not too far from Lake Titicaca) the Bolivian government is sponsoring an experiment to produce lithium from evaporation from salt ponds. There is even a “salt city” nearby (rather like the salt caverns near Krakow Poland). The report says that if Bolivia, a poor and completely landlocked country, gets this right, it could make Bolivia the “Saudi Arabia” of the green revolution. Bolivia is known for political instability and extreme poverty, in some of the highest cities and communities (outside of Tibet) in the world.

Attribution link for Wikimedia commons map of Bolivia, by Miguel Sevilla-Callejo

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