... Bolivia’s largely untapped Salar de Uyuni salt flats, located high in the Andes, are estimated to contain between 25 and 45% of the planet’s known reserves. The government of Evo Morales has been working to create a publicly-owned lithium industry to help diversify his country’s economy and raise more of its people out of poverty.
Efforts to get at the metal by multinational mining companies from the U.S., Canada, South Korea, and others have so far largely faltered. A joint venture with a German company was canceled by the Bolivian government last week over concerns that not enough benefit would go to the indigenous people who live near Uyuni. Chinese and Russian firms have been among the few that have inked deals.