Vice Minister attributes low lithium production in Bolivia to failures in swimming pools

April 21, 2024, 4:05 AM

April 21, 2024, 4:05 AM

The start-up of swimming pools for the pproduction of the raw material that allows for lithium carbonate and lithium sulfate had flaws and this affects the volume of the finished product, according to Álvaro Arnez, vice minister of High Alternative Energies.

For example, At the moment there is a planned production of 4,000 tons of lithium, when the projection for this year was 65,000 tons; However, the goal will be affected due to the irregularities detected.

As will be remembered, Bolivian Lithium Deposits (YLB) reported that they filed a formal complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office for economic damage amounting to more than Bs 425 million, against 11 former officials of the state company.

In contact with the Dinero 360 program on EL DEBER Radio, Arnez said that YLB’s complaint has to do with the damage to the pool system that stores raw materials and feed the potassium chloride and lithium sulfate plants, in addition to the residual brines. “There are three technical failures or mistakes that were recorded in the waterproofing of the pools, he explained.

The lithium carbonate plant was inaugurated on December 15 and began to operate, but that production does not reach the nominal capacity because it lacks sufficient raw materials. For the lithium carbonate plant, 15,000 tons are required and for the potassium chloride plant, about 350,000 tons as a maximum capacity.

11 former workers accused

The current complaint records 11 former officials of the state company. “Serious deficiencies have been identified in management, such as an excessive investment in infrastructure without a defined final plan and the signing of irregular contracts that have affected the integrity of the industrial pools crucial to the process, resulting in notable economic damage and a delay. considerable in its execution that must be responded to by the former executives,” considered economist Martín Moreira.

Currently, lithium carbonate is marketed with the pilot plant and the reduced production of the plant. “Production can be increased and although the audit identifies failures; It also generates a diagnosis to achieve solutions,” said Arnez.

Waterproofing is required to supply the two pools mentioned, but also with the direct extraction of lithium, he said. Does this situation discourage the attraction of foreign investments in the country? was consulted, but Arnez pointed out that it is the State that has invested and with the lawsuit they hope to recover the money.

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