Germany secures access to lithium in Bolivia

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-13 04:11:04|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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BERLIN, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- The German company ACI Systems Alemania GmbH (ACISA) and the Bolivian state-owned company Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) signed Wednesday the contract for a joint venture in Berlin, eying the sustainable extraction and industrialization of lithium, as well as other raw materials from Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt lake.

According to the news release of ACISA on Wednesday, the contract was sealed by the signatures of CEOs from both companies, in the presence of senior government representatives from both countries.

Bolivia holds 51 percent of the shares through the state-owned company YLB. The joint venture is scheduled to start the production of lithium as a raw material in the second half of 2021. By the end of 2022, an annual production capacity of 35,000 to 40,000 tons of lithium hydroxide is targeted, ACISA said in the news release.

ACISA stated that the joint venture enables Germany to secure direct access to non-domestic raw materials for the first time in decades, which is particularly important for the German automotive industry due to the emerging electromobility boom.

"Lithium is one of the key raw materials of the 21st century," ACISA's CEO Wolfgang Schmutz said.

Lithium is an elementary component of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which are found today in almost all battery-powered devices - from smartphones and e-bikes to cordless screwdrivers and electric vehicles. ACISA expected the demand for Lithium to double by 2025.

One of the world's largest lithium deposits is located at Salar de Uyuni in the Bolivian Andes - around 10 million tons of high quality lithium.

By now, all large German car manufacturers are phasing out of combustion engines entirely and require Lithium for the batteries of electric cars. On Tuesday, Daimler announced to spend 20 billion euros (22.7 billion U.S. dollars) on battery cells by 2030.

Additionally, the German government is supporting domestic battery cell production. Last month, Germany's Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier announced to provide initial funding of 1 billion euros for a large industrial battery cell production complex.