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Bolivia eyes lithium mining investment from Brazil's Petrobras

10th August 2023

By: Reuters


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LA PAZ - Brazil's state-run oil giant Petrobras has signaled interest in possibly investing in Bolivia's lithium-rich salt flats with an eye toward industrial-scale projects, the country's top energy official said on Tuesday.

Energy Minister Franklin Molina spoke in an interview with state-owned Bolivia TV on the same day that Bolivian President Luis Arce met with the Petrobras chief executive on the sidelines of an Amazon rainforest summit in Belem, Brazil.

"They also showed an interest in visiting Bolivian salt flats and were motivated by our industrialization projects," said Molina.

"(Petrobras) is showing an interest in this country that's migrating toward electric vehicles and the production of batteries," he added, emphasizing that Bolivia's government is keen to advance on lithium.

Later on Tuesday, Petrobras confirmed the meeting between Arce and Petrobras CEO Jean Paul Prates in a statement.

It described the meeting as focused on evaluating "potential alliances and joint projects" in oil and gas, fertilizers, as well as "energy transition" projects, which is sometimes used to describe those involving key battery metals like lithium.

Bolivia boasts massive lithium resources in sprawling salt flats, but the landlocked South American nation has yet to translate the potential into commercial-scale production. A partnership with Chinese battery giant CATL is still in an early phase.

Molina also asserted that Petrobras is interested in investing in Bolivian natural gas, the country's main fossil fuel business.

"They're not just talking about the continuity in exports of gas to Brazil, but also in developing future investments in new exploration projects to increase production," said Molina.

The minister noted that in a couple weeks a high-level Petrobras delegation with a focus on natural gas projects will travel to Bolivia, but he did not elaborate.

In its statement, Petrobras said it expects a company visit to Bolivia in September.

Edited by Reuters



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