Rosatom, YLB to jointly undertake lithium mining and production in Bolivia

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Continuing with the diversification of its clean energy business, the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom’s subsidiary Uranium One Holding has entered into an agreement with the Bolivian state-run company YLB (Lithium Deposits of Bolivia, Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos) for the construction of a lithium carbonate mining and production complex in the Potosí Department of Bolivia, Rosatom said earlier this month.

A Rosatom statement said that Bolivia has the most abundant lithium reserves in the world, and this joint project will enable the creation of a complete production chain from mining lithium raw materials to deriving a marketable product. 

“Today lithium is in the mainstream of the green economy; it is a critical element for the development of energy storage systems which have already been used on a large scale in a number of high-tech industries,” the statement said.  

“For Rosatom this is the first large-scale foreign project in the field of lithium production with investments of about 600 million dollars. It is planned to build an industrial complex with a capacity of 25 thousand tons of lithium carbonate per year to be expanded based on the results of geological exploration activities. Additionally, Rosatom will provide training of qualified personnel,” Rosatom’s First Deputy Director General for Development and International Business, Kirill Komarov, said in a statement.  

Rosatom said that its subsidiary Uranium One Group was awarded the agreement as a result of its participation in YLB’s International Competition of Direct Lithium Sorption Extraction Technologies.  

Lithium mining will rely on the Russian direct sorption extraction technology which has already proved to be highly cost efficient and environmentally friendly, the statement added.  

A newly constructed radiopharmaceuticals production complex in Bolivia, built with the assistance Rosatom, started supplying radiopharmaceuticals in March this year to the network of nuclear medicine centres in the country 

This cyclotron complex is part of the Center for Nuclear Technology Research and Development (CNTRD), the landmark project being implemented in the framework of the bilateral cooperation between Russia and Bolivia. The CNTRD is being constructed in El Alto, at an altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level. 

The cyclotron facility benefits the Bolivian healthcare system as it provides domestic production of the whole range of radiopharmaceuticals required for clinical examination of over 5,000 patients a year.  In future, the facility will allow the substitution of all the radiopharmaceuticals which Bolivia has to import now. 

The lithium production agreement signing ceremony was attended by, among others, the Bolivian President Luis Arce Catacora, Bolivia’s Energy Minister Franklin Molina Ortiz, President of YLB Carlos Ramos, and Uranium One subsidiary Lithium One Bolivia’s President Jorge Alberto Roca Kauffmann, the statement said.