Bolivia, France Sign Accords on Nuclear Energy, Lithium


LA PAZ – Bolivia's government and France's Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) have signed letters of intent on nuclear technology, the lithium industry, alternative energies, and industrial development, the Hydrocarbons and Energy Ministry said.

A CEA delegation signed the agreements with Bolivia's Hydrocarbons and Energy Ministry and Mining and Metals Ministry on Tuesday, the statement said.

One letter of intent refers to cooperation on nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and says the goal is to "establish that technology in Bolivia" to promote, among other things, "energy diversification" and scientific and technological development.

President Evo Morales announced in October that the Andean nation would take its first steps to create a nuclear energy program before year's end, saying the proposed nuclear energy plants are to be located in western Bolivia and require a total investment outlay of more than $2 billion.

Morales said a PET/CT cyclotron facility, a type of particle accelerator; a nuclear power reactor; and a nuclear research reactor will be installed in the Andean province of La Paz.

Russia, Argentina and France are potential partners of Bolivia in this effort.

Late last week, a representative of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency visited the Andean nation and confirmed that that organization will assist Bolivia with those plans.

A second letter of intent signed Tuesday refers to the lithium industry and states that Bolivia and the CEA will cooperate in the "development of programs throughout the value chain, from lithium carbonate to battery systems."

Bolivia is home to the Uyuni salt flats, the world's largest lithium reserve.

The Andean nation says that area may contain 100 million tons of lithium, although the United States Geological Survey puts the total at just 9 million tons.

Two other letters of intent were signed between the Bolivian government and the CEA in the areas of industrial development and solar energy.