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New ABC News Australia Documentary on the Bolivian Lithium

In mid June this year ABC News from Australia visited Bolivia to report on its lithium. As a result, they created the best documentary on the Bolivian lithium that has ever been produced internationally. The video has since been broadcast for the first time on July 27, 2010, under the title: “Bolivia – The Electric Range”. For an expedite access to the video, follow the link: HidrocarburosBolivia.Com. The latter web site introduces the video with some interesting remarks:

Mark Corcoran (ABC News Reporter): “Many believe that Pachamama (Mother Earth) has offered the miracle of lithium to an energy hungry world. But, strangely, Evo Morales, Bolivia´s first indigenous president, seems to be in no hurry to exploit this extraordinary gift”.

José Pimentel (Minister of Mining): “They want us to speed up the handover of lithium and to move faster towards capital partnerships. But the government’spolicy has been decided, we´re going to take our own path towards the process of industrializing lithium”.

Juan Carlos Zuleta (Lithium Economics Analyst): “The United States Geological Survey has estimated that we have here 5,4 million metric tonsof lithium … Using 1998 prices, the lithium of Salar de Uyuni costs 515 billion dollars”. 

Lastly, HidrocarburosBolivia.Com states that “Mark Corcoran reveils that according to a more recent estimation, the value of lithium in the Salar de Uyuni would reach the staggering figure of 1.1 trillion US dollars. But note that, the number mentioned by Mark Corcoran (US$ 1.1 trillion) provided to him a few days ago (after the interview) considers the increase in both lithium prices and estimated lithium reserves between 1998 and 2010. In fact, to calculate the increase in prices of metallic lithium I used the variation in lithium carbonate prices, from US$ 4,480/MT (in 1998) to US$ 6,000/MT (in 2010), whereas to estimate the quantity of reserves I used 9 million MT of identified lithium resources (instead of 5.4 million MT of reserve base) as provided by the US Geological Survey in January 2010.  

Disclosure: Author is a lithium economics analyst based in La Paz, Bolivia. In January 2010 he participated as an invited speaker at the Lithium Supply & Markets Conference held in Las Vegas, USA. He holds no positions in any stocks.