LA PAZ -- Four foreign companies are interested in mining lithium in Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest known deposit of that metal, with the aim of producing automobile batteries, a Bolivian government official said Wednesday.
Delegations from the Japanese firms Mitsubishi and Sumitomo and France's Bollore group are the ones that have "most formalized" their intention to mine lithium in Uyuni, the national mining director, Freddy Beltran, told Efe.
Those three firms, Beltran said, have sent "high level" missions to Bolivia, although the South Korean multinational LG has announced that it will make a proposal to the country since it needs a supply of lithium to fulfill its contracts to provide batteries for U.S. automobiles.
Beltran said that other firms, whose names he did not provide, also have made contact with Bolivian authorities to explore the possibility of being part of the country's lithium production industry.
Uyuni, where half the world's lithium reserves are located, is a salt flat located in the Potosi region in southwestern Bolivia, an area of 12,000 square kilometers (4,613 square miles).
Next week, President Evo Morales will visit Russia and then France, where Bollore intends to set up a meeting to present to him their plans to manufacture automobile batteries using lithium. EFE