In the western highlands of Bolivia, at a height of 3,600m, is the world largest identified and thus far untapped reserve of lithium. Bolivia is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the production of and income from lithium represent a major opportunity for development. Lithium is one of the most important raw materials for lithium-ion batteries, used in mobile phones, camcorders and laptops and in ever more hybrid and electric vehicles and which thus, in the view of many analysts, has one of the key roles in the path towards sustainable mobility.
With the increasing demand for and importance of lithium, the question arises as to which risks and opportunities are associated with this raw material and the related development of industrial lithium production in Bolivia. In a case study and four scenarios, the current state of affairs is subjected to an analysis, and four different development paths on way to 2030 are sketched out.