Production begins at Bolivia's lithium carbonate pilot plant

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bolivian President Evo Morales inaugurated Thursday the lithium carbonate pilot plant in the Uyuni salt flat.

The installation of the plant, which has a capacity of 40t/m, cost US$19mn, according to information from state news agency ABI.

At the inauguration, Morales remarked that the next step will be industrial production of lithium.

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"We've gone from the laboratory to the pilot plant, and next up is large-scale production," Morales was quoted as saying in a release from ABI.

Furthermore, state miner Comibol's general manager of evaporite resources, Luis Alberto Echazú, said that despite being a pilot operation, production from the plant will be marketable, according to a separate ABI release.

In August 2012, operations began at a potassium chloride pilot plant, also in the Uyuni region. At the time, an official from Comibol told BNamericas that the lithium pilot plant was expected to start operating by November of that year.

Construction of the pilot plant began in 2008.

The startup of production at the lithium carbonate plant came on the same day as the reactivation of the Karachipampa polymetallurgical plant, another industry milestone in Bolivia.

The 10,000km2 Uyuni salt flat is located in Bolivia's Potosí department.