Debunking Myths about Bolivian Lithium Extraction

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By Val Reynoso

Bourgeois media has compared the process of lithium extraction to that of petroleum extraction and mining; however this is not the case and the process is actually beneficial to the Bolivian economy and one of the less damaging processes of raw material extraction.

Poverty rates in Bolivia have drastically reduced from 38% in 2005, right before Evo Morales first became president, to 15% in 2018. Bolivia also reportedly has the best economy in South America according to recent reports from CEPAL UN and government data. Poverty continues to be reduced as more projects to redistribute wealth appear.

Evo is also refusing to send raw material of lithium, also known as white petroleum, to the US and Canada, to prevent dependence and likelihood of imperialist interventions, as a result as has been the case historically in the rest of Latin America. He is industrializing it to sell on the international market and it will be mainly used to make batteries. Statistics show that 95% of lithium is not mined and is instead extracted through usage of a brine pool that evaporate the liquid and separate the lithium by using electrolysis.

Lithium is also able to be recycled, fossil fuels are not. Those who oppose renewable energy do so because they want to continue to enrich themselves off of fossil fuels which do damage the environment, even more than lithium does. Lithium batteries are used to power electric vehicles, which are helpful to the environment and reduce dependence on petroleum oil, one of the motives of imperialist intervention by the West.

Evo also inaugurated the first technological institute of Lithium in Potosí, Bolivia, his goal is to achieve the technological independence of Bolivia. Bolivia consolidates itself as a fundamental actor in the lithium market and it is expected that in the next five years, they will realize a production of more than 150,000 tons of lithium with future industrial plants.

Val Reynoso is a Politics and Human Rights undergrad, journalist and Marxist-Leninist activist.

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