Bolivia Signs Lithium Deal with Chinese Company

The state-owned Yacimientos del Litio Bolivianos (YLB) has signed an agreement with the Chinese company CATL BRUNP & CMOC (CBC) for the operation of two industrial complexes with Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology in salt flats in the departments of Potosí and Oruro.

The document was signed by YLB’s president, Carlos Ramos, and CBC’s representative, Qinghua Zhou, in a public ceremony held at the Casa Grande del Pueblo on January 20th.

“By the first quarter of 2025, Bolivia should already be exporting lithium batteries, with national raw material. There’s no time to lose, the country cannot wait any longer, it cannot experiment any more, we have to go at a safe pace to gradually industrialize this valuable natural resource. Congratulations to all the Bolivian people, because today begins the era of industrialization of Bolivian lithium”, said the President at the ceremony held at the Casa Grande del Pueblo.

Many years passed, “including during the coup d’état of 2019, one of the reasons was Bolivian lithium” and this became evident with the crisis that the world is facing today for energy, which has put on the discussion table of all countries the way to produce cleaner energy in a context of climate crisis,” he added, highlighting the importance of the metal.

Arce indicated that Bolivia will work with foreign companies, within the framework of respect for the sovereign business model, where the Bolivian State plays the leading role in the administration of natural and strategic resources.

“Today, January 20, 2023 is a date that will remain engraved in the memory of our country because a long-awaited dream begins to be fulfilled (…) Direct extraction technology provides a viable, real and quickly implemented solution”, said the Minister of Hydrocarbons and Energy, Franklin Molina Ortiz, highlighting the determination and political vision of the Head of State for the development of the energy project.

“This whole selection process took considerable time to evaluate and today we are seeing the result of this process. The works to be carried out are destined to specific areas of the Uyuni and Coipasa salt flats. We hope that these industries will be highly productive and will be up to the development that our country needs”, said Carlos Ramos Mamani, president of YLB.

The agreement consists of carrying out the necessary activities for the operation of two industrial complexes. Each will have the capacity to produce up to 25,000 tons per year of battery grade lithium carbonate, at 99.5% purity, and semi-industrial processes.

CBC participated in the piloting process along with seven other companies and met the requirements established by YLB, which considered experience and technology applicable to the characteristics of the brines, a lithium recovery from the brines of at least 80% and lower water usage, among other factors.


CATL is the world’s leading energy innovation technology company, with a market value of nearly $200 billion. It has the world’s first carbon-free battery factory and a world-class headlamp factory. Nearly 4 million electric vehicles in 53 countries and regions around the world use CATL batteries.

Meanwhile, BRUMP is known worldwide in the recycling of used battery resources as a holding subsidiary of CATL. The company accounted for nearly 50% of battery recycling in China in 2021.

Meanwhile, CMOC is a world-class new energy metals mining group. It is the second largest producer of cobalt and niobium in the world and has a market value of US$20 billion.

By Kawsachun News with information from Bolivia’s Ministerio de Hidrocarburos y Energías

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