US Startup EnergyX exits Bolivia Lithium Race

June 8 (Reuters) – US startup EnergyX and Argentine energy company TechPetrol have been disqualified from Bolivian lithium extraction by the government.

Bolivia has the world’s largest lithium resources, but has been struggling to exploit them commercially for decades, boosting its efforts amid growing demand for batteries for electric vehicles last year.

Six companies are still competing for a partnership. Russia’s uranium is supported by US-based Lilac Solutions, German automaker BMW (BMWG.DE) and Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Chinese battery company CATL (300750.SZ). Other Chinese companies include Fusion Enertech, TBEA Co Ltd (600089.SS) and CITIC Guoan Group Co.

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Prior to this, no company used lithium commercially.

Bolivia did not say why EnergyX and TechPetrol were disqualified. The final results will be announced on June 15, the government said on Tuesday.

However, EnergyX could be the biggest competitor this year as it begins production tests of a pilot lithium extraction facility at Bolivia’s Unisalt site. He approached the authorities and ran advertisements to show his technology on Bolivian television.

EnergyX recently appointed Juan Carlos Barrera to oversee operations in South America. Pereira is a former CEO of SQM Chile, one of the world’s largest lithium producers.

EnergyX declined to comment on the process. Tecpetrol did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bolivia faces significant restrictions on the extraction of its lithium resources, including legal restrictions that currently prevent private companies from extracting it.

South America has the world’s largest lithium reserves, but Bolivia is the world’s second-largest producer behind Chile and Argentina, which has a promising pipeline for new projects.

Report by Marcelo Rosabrun and Daniel Ramos; Editing by Bradley Beret

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