The Bolivian government has signed a contract with a consortium of three Chinese companies called CBC – Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Limited (CATL), Guangdong Brunp Recycling Technology Co., Ltd (BRUNP) and CMOC Group Limited (CMOC) – to exploit Bolivia’s vast lithium reserves. The global importance of lithium continues to increase, and this contract will have geopolitical ramifications. Hopefully, the project will also help Bolivians who have not yet enjoyed the benefits of their nation’s vast mineral reserves.
CATL, BRUNP and CMOC are well-known players in the energy and mining world. For example, CATL is a battery company with the Chinese billionaire Robin Zeng as CEO; the company has reportedly cornered the lithium battery market. However, CATL’s lithium battery production in the US has raised concerns, as the manufacturing powerhouse Ford has announced “plans to license CATL technology to use in a $3.5bn Michigan factory… intending to use its cheaper lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries in two of its models.”