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China: China explores Bolivia lithium investments

China is exploring possible investments to help develop Bolivia’s reserves of lithium and other minerals, the Chinese ambassador said.

Ambassador Shen Zhi Liang said that many Chinese companies are considering investments. He noted that state company CITIC Guoan Group Corp. already signed an agreement with Bolivia last year to quantify reserves of lithium and potassium in the country’s salt flats.

“We’re at the start of Chinese investments in Bolivia, and one possibility is the lithium project, and other minerals,” the diplomat said in an interview.

China already buys tin, zinc and silver from Bolivia.

Lithium is used in the production of batteries for many types of electronics and electric vehicles. Bolivia’s government says the country possesses more than 70 percent of the world’s reserves of lithium.

The ambassador said China doesn’t intend to buy rights to minerals but rather to cooperate with Bolivia in developing its reserves.

He noted that so far much of China’s investments in Latin America have gone to other countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and Brazil. Direct Chinese investments totaled more than $15 billion in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2010, according to a report last year by the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.


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