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Bolivia partnering with China's Xinjian TBEA for US$2.3B lithium JV

Bolivia picked China's Xinjiang TBEA Group Co. Ltd. to team up with Bolivian state lithium company Yacimientos de Litio Bolivianos, or YLB, for a US$2.3 billion lithium joint venture in the country, Reuters reported Feb. 7.

Xinjiang TBEA beat out German company ACI Systems GmbH, ROSATOM unit Uranium One Inc. and Ireland's Clontarf Energy PLC for the partnership, the newswire reported.

YLB would hold a 51% stake in the venture, and the Chinese company would hold the rest. It will look to produce lithium carbonate and lithium chloride as well as potassium sulfate, boric acid and sodium brome from the Coipasa and Pastos Grandes salt flats in the Bolivian Andes.

The preliminary deal gave China a second opportunity in the South American country, after it missed out on a deal in 2018 when ACI Systems was picked as YLB's strategic partner over the salt flats of Uyuni, reportedly the country's largest lithium deposit.

There are no official lithium resource estimates for the Coipasa and Pastos Grandes salt flats, while Uyuni is believed to hold at least 21 million tonnes of lithium, more than double a previous estimate, according to Reuters.