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June 8 (Reuters) – American startup EnergyX and Argentine electrical power firm Tecpetrol have been disqualified from a race to mine Bolivian lithium, the government stated, as the nation aims to tap its extensive means in partnership with one particular or additional foreign providers.
Bolivia has the world’s most significant lithium assets but it has struggled for many years to mine them commercially, amping up its endeavours previous calendar year amid a surge in demand from customers for batteries for electric powered motor vehicles.
Six companies are continue to competing to secure a partnership. They consist of Russia’s Uranium One particular, U.S. startup Lilac Alternatives – backed by German carmaker BMW (BMWG.DE) and Monthly bill Gates’s Breakthrough Power Ventures – and large Chinese battery maker CATL (300750.SZ). The other folks are Chinese companies Fusion Enertech, TBEA Co Ltd (600089.SS) and CITIC Guoan Group Co.
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None of the companies has exploited lithium at a business scale ahead of.
Bolivia did not say why the EnergyX and Tecpetrol had been disqualified. The govt claimed on Tuesday it expected to announce last success on June 15.
Still, EnergyX was possibly the most outstanding competitor, obtaining begun production tests a lithium extraction pilot facility on Bolivia’s Uyuni salt flat this calendar year. It has also courted officials and aired advertising on Bolivian tv to clearly show its technological innovation.
EnergyX a short while ago employed Juan Carlos Barrera to oversee operations in South The us. Barrera is a former senior formal at Chile’s SQM , one of the world’s premier lithium producers.
EnergyX declined to comment on the method. Tecpetrol did not quickly answer to a request for remark.
Bolivia nonetheless faces substantial hurdles in mining its lithium assets, together with lawful limits that presently stop non-public providers from carrying out the extraction.
South America has the world’s biggest lithium reserves, but Bolivia is behind Chile – the world’s No. 2 producer – and Argentina – which has a promising pipeline of new initiatives.
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Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun and Daniel Ramos Modifying by Bradley Perrett
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