South Korea's state-run mineral development corporation set up a joint venture with its Bolivian counterpart to develop lithium in the South American country, sources said Friday.
Seoul's embassy in La Paz said a consortium made up of Korea Resources Corp. (KORES) and POSCO, South Korea's leading steelmaker, signed a deal to create a lithium venture with Comibol, Bolivia's mineral development corporation.
Under the agreement reached Thursday, the new company will make anodes and cathodes for electric vehicles that will run on rechargeable batteries made from lithium found in Bolivia.
The country's lithium deposit is estimated to stand at around 5.4 million tons, or half of all known reserves in the world.
Comibol is to provide the lithium, nickel and manganese needed to make batteries, and the Korean consortium plans to offer manufacturing knowhow.
The tie-up is expected to be a win-win arrangement, because Bolivia can learn the manufacturing process from its South Korean partners, while Seoul can gain access to the critical natural resource that is used in mobile phones, notebook computers and batteries for electric vehicles.
South Korea, which is the largest manufacturer of lithium rechargeable batteries, imports 12,000 tons of lithium from countries such as Chile and Argentina.