LA PAZ – Bolivian magnate Marcelo Claure provided $1 billion in seed money to establish the first investment fund focused on companies in the lithium industry, La Paz daily Pagina Siete said Monday.
Claure, the founder, chairman and CEO of Brightstar Corp., a leader in distribution and support for the wireless industry, says lithium is the metal of the future.
While lithium carbonate is the main component of rechargeable batteries that power laptop computers, cell phones, iPods and digital cameras, companies are also working on plans to produce electric cars powered by lithium batteries.
The Global X Lithium Exchange Traded Fund is listed on the New York Stock Exchange’s Arca electronic platform.
Claure told Pagina Siete that part of his initial $1 billion investment will go toward exploitation of the lithium reserves in Bolivia’s Uyuni Salt Flat, an almost 4,000-square-mile expanse of salt some 12,000 feet above sea level.
The Bolivian government cites U.S. and French studies indicating that Uyuni holds between 5.5 million and 9 million tons of lithium and suggests the actual figure could be high as 19 million tons.
France’s Bollore, Japanese firms Sumitomo and Mitsubishi and South Korea’s LG have all expressed an interest in developing Bolivia’s lithium deposits.
Bolivian President Evo Morales says that any company wanting to tap the Uyuni reserves must agree to install a plant in the Andean nation to manufacture cars powered by lithium batteries. EFE