Empresa Pública Nacional Estratégica de Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos (YLB) signed an agreement with Russia-based Uranium One Group to install a pilot plant scalable to semi-industrial production with Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology in the Uyuni salt flat (Potosí) with a production capacity of 14,000 tons per year.
Under the agreement, the plant will process battery-grade lithium carbonate of certified purity and will be implemented in three phases to test the technology and much larger brine treatment processes.
In the first phase, the pilot plant will produce 1,000 tons per year; in the second, production will be expanded to 9,000 tons per year; and in the third phase, another 5,000 tons per year will be added with another semi-industrial module, making a total of 14,000 tons of lithium carbonate per year.
The implementation of each phase and the expansion of production capacity will be subject to rigorous analysis of piloting data, geological and environmental studies of raw water and virgin brine reservoirs, recharge capacity of the reservoirs, lithium recovery, efficiency of infrastructure, among others.
The agreement will be valid for two years, will allow production to generate foreign currency for the country in the medium term and establish technical studies with the objective of designing an industrial plant with greater production capacity.
The signed agreement does not grant any concession to the Russian company, nor property rights over the natural resources existing in the Uyuni salt flat.
Uranium One is an entity of Russia’s ROSATOM Atomic Energy Corporation. In June 2023, YLB and Uranium One signed a a framework agreement on the construction of lithium carbonate mining and production complex in Bolivia.