On October 5, 2018, the Bolivian state enterprise Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) and the German company ACI Systems Alemania GmbH (ACISA) officially sealed their cooperation on the extraction and industrialization of lithium from Salar de Uyuni. Juan Carlos Montenegro, Head of YLB, and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schmutz, CEO of ACISA, signed a partnership agreement in La Paz.
The signing of the partnership agreement by Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos and ACI Systems Alemania represents an important milestone in the realization of the Bolivian-German lithium project. The Bolivian-German energy and mobility initiative has thus gained momentum. The partnership also guarantees Germany access to the coveted metal. And this at Salar de Uyuni in the Bolivian Andes, the world’s largest known deposit of around ten million tons.
The consortium around ACISA offers state-of-the-art technology, plants and machinery to establish a value-added chain in Bolivia in the mid-term, from extracting the raw material lithium through producing cathode material right up to manufacturing battery systems as end-products. Apart from the use of leading-edge technologies, another key aspect is environmentally and socially-compatible implementation, for example by using renewable energy. Furthermore, knowledge will also be transferred as Bolivian employees undergo training and qualification courses. This will create between 500 and 1,000 direct jobs and up to 10,000 indirect jobs in Bolivia in areas such as transport, logistics and services. The start of the production of lithium as a raw material is scheduled for the second half of 2021. By the end of 2022, the goal is to achieve an annual production capacity of 35,000 to 40,000 tons of lithium hydroxide. Further expansion of this capacity is planned.
The next steps
Parallel to signing the founding protocol, the scoping phase has begun, in which plans will be reviewed and defined. This process is expected to be completed in December 2018. A public-private joint venture between YLB and ACISA, in which the Bolivian state-owned company holds a majority stake of 51 percent, is also to be set up by the end of this year.
YLB-ACISA’s tasks include the precise definition of the areas of activity and the detailed preparation of business and environmental plans for the project companies that will subsequently be established. The joint venture will also be responsible for designing the technical and economic implementation of the project.